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Blog 12: Asteroid threat to humanity

This blog shares excerpts from an article written by Svetla Ben-Itznak (Assistant Professor of Space and International relations, Air War College).

In my novel 2101: Spark of Hope, an asteroid attack is seen as the major risk to humanity by the Global Leadership.

Below are excerpts of Svetla Ben- Itznak’s article.

“To date, NASA has tracked only an estimated 40% of the bigger ones. Surprise asteroids have visited Earth in the past and will undoubtedly do so in the future. When they do appear, how prepared will humanity be?

If a celestial body of 140 metres in diameter crashed into Earth, it could destroy an entire city and cause extreme regional devastation.

Larger objects - 0.6 miles (1 km) or more - could have global effects and even cause mass extinctions.

In 1908, an approximately 50-meter celestial body exploded over the Tunguska river in Siberia. It levelled more than 80 million trees over 2,100 square km.

In 2013, an asteroid only 20 meters across burst in the atmosphere 32 km above Chelyabinsk, Russia. It released the equivalent of 30 Hiroshima bombs worth of energy, injured over 1,100 people and caused US$33 million in damage.

A new mission, funded by US Congress in 2018, is scheduled to launch in 2026 an infrared, space-based telescope – NEO Surveyor – dedicated to searching for potentially dangerous asteroids.

In protecting Earth, early detection is key. At the 2021 Planetary Defence Conference, scientists recommended a minimum of five to 10 years’ preparation time to mount a successful defence against hazardous asteroids.

In November 2021, NASA launched the world’s first full-scale planetary defence mission as a proof of concept: the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART. The large asteroid Didymos and its small moon currently pose no threat to Earth. In September 2022, NASA plans to change the asteroid’s orbit by crashing a 1,340-pound (610 kg) probe into Didymos’ moon at a speed of approximately 22,500 kph.”

Could expanded human endeavours in space help unite humanity around new model of global governance?

Will endeavours like DART have unintended consequences?

In ten years, it is likely that human colonies will be established on the moon. Some ambitions see humans at least visiting Mars in less than 20 years.

The old saying “We don’t know what we don’t know” applies to most of the darker side of space

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