This is but the latest in an escalating series of asteroid close-calls and fly-bys
NASA predicts asteroid will pass by Earth on November 2.
Have you heard about the “Election Day” asteroid?
NASA is predicting it will give the Earth a very close shave the day before the presidential election. And while it is not being sent by a “Higher” or evenly “Heavenly Power” smiting us for either reelecting President Donald J. Trump or the prospect of a President Joe Biden, it is a warning we should take extremely seriously.
Worried about COVID-19, the environment, jobs, immigration, terrorism, health care, crime or the cost of education? An asteroid hit will erase all of those worries and quite possibly, all of us.
This is but the latest in an escalating series of asteroid close-calls and fly-bys. Sooner or later – it is the way of the cosmos – one won’t miss. Until that life-destroying impact, the only protection the Earth has at the moment is pure dumb luck.
A direct hit by an even a relatively “small” asteroid could destroy a city, a state or a region. And yet, we continue to basically ignore this threat. Why?
Generally, because asteroids are not seen as a tangible vote-getter for most politicians, a ratings-winner for much of the media, or even a multi-million-dollar government-grant producer for many scientists.
But an asteroid screaming toward Earth with a minuscule chance of impact hours before the election between Trump and Biden? Cue the clicks.
The asteroid named 2018VP1 is estimated to only be about 7 feet in length. Even if it did manage to impact the Earth, all or most of it would burn up in the atmosphere. But again, that is all part of the “dumb-luck” strategy.
Less than two weeks ago, on Aug. 15, an asteroid the size of an automobile missed the Earth by about 1,800 miles. Not only was it completely undetected, but it was the closest call we have ever had without being impacted.
What’s the big deal?
Well, according to NASA, there are about 25,000 of these near-Earth asteroids from 6 to 460 feet wide. With only 8,000 of them detected. Worse, NASA believes there are tens of millions of these 33 to 65 feet in diameter asteroids zooming around undiscovered within 30 million miles of Earth.
To put it into terms everyone could understand, last year NASA simulated a 200-foot asteroid slamming into New York City. Their study concluded it would have hit New York with 1,000 times the destructive force of the nuclear weapon dropped on Hiroshima in World War II and instantly killed upwards of 1.3 million people.
That’s the “big deal.”
Humanity must spread out into the solar system to increase its chance of survival.
For a real-life example of the destructive force from a “small” asteroid, we only have to look at what happened to Siberia on June 30, 1908, when an asteroid less than 150 feet across exploded in the air. It leveled more than 80 million trees and laid waste to an area roughly twice the size of New York City.
Last year in a major study – mostly ignored by our leaders – from Johns Hopkins titled: “Breaking up is hard to do. Asteroids are stronger, harder to destroy than previously thought,” the scientists warned, “It is only a matter of time before these questions go from being academic to defining our response to a major threat.”
All of which begs the question: What are our realistic responses to this major threat?
NASA’s Planetary Science Advisory Committee is now rightfully shifting much of its attention to asteroid detection and deflection. Next year, it will launch the “Double Asteroid Redirection Test” (DART). The goal of this planetary defense mission is to collide with a tiny moon orbiting the near-Earth asteroid “Didymos” to test a technique to deflect its orbit.
That’s better than nothing but any real defense of our planet is still years to decades away and everyone at NASA and within our government knows that.
So then what?
The late professor Stephen Hawking rightfully stressed: “I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster. … I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go into space.”
Hawking specifically singled out asteroids as a major threat to our existence.
At the moment, the eggs holding all of humanity are in the Earth basket. The United States, Russia and China are now looking to establish bases on the Moon before looking toward Mars.
If anything, we must accelerate those plans. Humanity must spread out into the solar system to increase its chance of survival.
The “Election Day” asteroid is putting an exclamation point on that terrifying reality. Time to focus.