Scientists Initiate Campaign to Prevent Earth Being Hit by an Asteroid

​Asteroid specialists reportedly are afraid our planet is located in a zone rather sensitive and prone to dangers from the so-called Near-Earth Objects (NEOs).

About 66 million years ago, one of these deadly cosmic rocks annihilated a massive amount of life on our planet. Now, four new NEOs are identified every day, but numerous other potential dangers are still undetected.

Joint Missions are Crucial

The operation was named Support Hera and was started by the co-founders of Asteroid Day in the hope of weighing more research into protecting Earth from possible asteroid collisions.

Hera is the European Space Agency’s (ESA) planetary defense and asteroid deflection program that functions in collaboration with the US space agency NASA. The campaign was initiated on Friday, November 15th, at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, Germany.​

Support Hera also had the support of Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research and the Observatoire de la Côte D’Azur in France.​

In a press conference in Berlin, the project’s managers revealed a letter signed by over 1,200 worried people. The letter said that unlike other natural calamities, an asteroid collision with Earth is something we know how to predict and also prevent. The process just needs to be tested. However, with today’s technology, the attempt to change the trajectory of such an object is possible.

In accordance with the letter, asteroids more than 328 feet (100 meters) across are sufficiently massive to produce serious damage on an area of thousands of square miles. However, researchers have only detected less than 20 percent of asteroids in the Solar System.

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft, which will slam into the asteroid pair [Image: NASA]
The scientists explain that even a small object with a size of 32 feet (10 meters) can mirror the impact of an atomic bomb if it crashes into the planet. When an unidentified 65.6 feet-wide (20 meters) asteroid blew off over Russia in 2013, it harmed over 1,000 people.

Real Danger

Expeditions such as HERA and NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test or DART will put to trial the capacity to thrust these cosmic bodies away from Earth before they smash into it. The collective mission will aim towards a 2,560 feet (780 meters) asteroid and its smaller 524 feet (160 meters) mate.

Dr. Patrick Michel, the Hera principal investigator, said that there is the need for a coordinated international plan for near-Earth object impact mitigation. The HERA and DART projects will provide scientists with the possibility to put to trial the abilities to deviate an asteroid from its course.

Dr. Holger Sierks from the Max Planck Institute said: “It is now that we have the knowledge about the surface of comets and asteroids from space missions as Rosetta and Dawn – and based on this experience we are best prepared for a mission on asteroid deflection.”

Geologist Gisela Pösges said: “For me who lives in an Impact crater, the Ries Crater, the danger from space is very obvious. The Ries Event destroyed an area from more than 4,500 cubic kilometers.”

“That means if such an Impact Event would take place today at the same place the area which is located in a triangle made by the three big City in Southern Germany Nuremberg in a northeast direction, Stuttgart in western direction and Munich in a southeast direction – all three cities are 100 km away from the point of impact – would be wiped out.”

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