I know everyone loves the Die Hard series, but Bruce Willis really missed a great marketing opportunity by coming out with the latest incarnation of John McClane this weekend instead of Armageddon II – Saving Russia.
Yesterday’s news out of the Kremlin would have surely sent ticket sales through the roof. Of course with pieces of meteorite coming through the same roofs, I’m not sure the trade-off is worth it.
If you are one of the Luddites who still doesn’t own a television or watch videos on the internet, you missed what almost all of the rest of us saw – a huge meteorite crashing through the sound barrier and into the ground in Russia.
It was incredible.
As the meteorite was crashing through the atmosphere, it’s sonic boom shattered windows before impact shook the ground and injured more than 500 people.
But the relatively small meteorite is nothing compared to DA14. This asteroid – which reports say is about the size of an Olympic swimming pool - was discovered by a Spanish Dentist/Amateur astronomer about a year ago. Thousands of highly trained scientists watching the sky and a dentist is the first one to see this thing. He was probably on a date and just bought the telescope at the Spanish equivalent of Walmart (I think that would be Walmarto, but I’m not sure) trying to impress his ladyfriend.
It is going to graze the earth by passing between the third rock from the Sun and all of the satellites that power our communications. It will only miss us by 17,000 miles. That’s a long way to drive but not so far on the “asteroid almost hit us scale.”
The best thing about these kinds of events is how, even though we are only aware of one percent of the asteroids heading toward our planet, scientists believe they have this thing under control.
They claim the drastic measures used in movies like Deep Impact and Armageddon aren’t really necessary. All you have to do is deflect the asteroid very slightly to accomplish the goal of missing the planet.
One method is to simply ram an asteroid with a spaceship. In fact, there is a plan in place to do just that in 2022. There are two near-earth asteroids headed close to our planet. The plan is to send two spaceships up and ram the asteroid with one while the other one watches – that sounds like a lot of other work relationships.
Scientists think that the amount of deflection required is so small, that the impact would take care of it. No one would have to drill holes in the surface or detonate any warheads.
Page 2 of 2 - Of course, if they are wrong, we would all die. But they probably aren’t wrong. It’s comforting because scientists never discover anything new to prove that everything we ever believed about things is wrong. I just hope the next “new discovery” isn’t that it is a lot harder to change the direction of an asteroid than we first thought.
I would probably hit it a little harder than necessary, just to be sure.
There is also discussion of “gravity tractor spaceships” that could pull the asteroid off course enough to save earth and keep Billy Bob Thornton high –fiving people for hours.
I’m not sold on this one. The scale of the spaceship that could accomplish this feat would be so large and require so much fuel to reach the asteroid and then pull it out of its orbit would be immense. I hope we are given more than a year to get that new John Deere Space Shuttle up and running, because it will take a lot of duct tape and spare parts to get that thing together.
There is a reason so many shows feature the idea of meteorite and asteroid impacts. We can’t control them. The idea that we could somehow control them is exciting.
But with 99 percent of these rocks flying around at 20 miles per second, I’m not sure we have quite as much control as we hope. Wow, that was a cheerful thought to leave you with.
Have a good weekend, everybody. If you hear a loud boom, duck.
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.