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Thank God for the Russians

You think this can’t happen? Well, think again. The Russians disagree.

For a very long time, I have believed that our one true fear of global annihilation ought to stem from the likelihood that a rogue asteroid with evil intent will aim for Earth. And you know what? The Russians are on it!

Ever since the end of the Cold War, I suspect they have been looking for something bigger than the United States to be afraid of, and they, like me, take an asteroid colliding with our planet seriously.

It’s a good thing someone does. I didn’t want to die out here, cold and alone, the planet crashed into, a kind of nuclear winter inevitable, with the Western seaboard falling off into the Pacific Ocean. Oh, wait; I think that’s the plot of a doomsday thriller I saw in the movies.

However, it’s an entirely realistic scenario that everyone except you takes seriously. You think we’re going to blow ourselves up. You worry about global warming. You worry about nuclear waste. Well, you really shouldn’t.

I know NASA and the Russians are much more worried about asteroid Apophis than they are that we will destroy ourselves. The Russian Federal Space Agency and NASA both discuss the likelihood of Apophis hitting us.

It’s time to take this asteroid threat more seriously; it’s the most realistic way of destroying a planet, much more likely than us blowing ourselves up.

Now, NASA has recently updated the status of their prediction for Apophis, and believes there is a reduced chance of it hitting Earth. However, the Russians, presumably because they are determined to seek out and destroy evil-doers, have decided that Apophis should be taken seriously, and I’m grateful they care. Theirs would be an international consortium of caring do-gooders, all of whom are working on finding reassuringly ‘non-nuclear’ ways of chipping away at this threatening asteroid.

There have been movies made about this same exact subject, but they are so badly written and acted that no one took the threat seriously, and instead went home from the theatre making fun of asteroids. This is a grave mistake.

If you do some research, you will find that the deadliest occurrences on this planet have been when asteroids struck in previous millenia. Just because it hasn’t happened in your lifetime does not mean we are immune. To believe that is a form of magical thinking, and I simply will not have you thinking magically.

You believe that because you were born, all asteroids stopped dropping from the heavens into our atmosphere? Think again. It’s never that simple here in the universe. Just because you haven’t been hit on the head by asteroid-debris, does not mean it won’t happen. 

All you have to do is consider the effects on Russia in February, 2013, the day the asteroid hit Chelyabinsk, to understand why it’s so important for us to spend more time tracking asteroids.

Here are some recent things we’ve been doing about asteroids: 

In January 2010, a report by the National Research Council said the U.S. must do more to safeguard the planet against asteroids.

I am happy to report that an important addition to the ongoing global quest to watch out for rogue asteroids is up in Hawaii, no longer merely a vacation destination.

On the cutting edge of technology, the observatory overseen by the University of Hawaii is small, but contains a giant digital camera (operating at 1,400 megapixels—1.4 gigapixels) with the ability to survey an area of the sky as large as 36 full moons.

So, as you can see, progress is being made and my ongoing concern about the asteroid that will be our final undoing is shared by others. I am not alone here in the universe after all. If you check out the Pan-STARRS website, look for the gravity tractor information. That is incredibly cool.

In 2009, My brother, a technogeek, alerted me to this, and I do not know why I didn’t already know about it, but some things slip through my net. On December 14th of that year, NASA launched the WISE project into the heavens.

WISE stands for Wide-Spread Infrared Survey Explorer, and its goal is to map the sky using infrared technology, which discerns particles and gases that are otherwise unnoticeable to the naked eye.

According to NASA’s website, WISE analyses objects like asteroids, because (they don’t want to say this outright) earth needs to know if an asteroid is going to collide with us. Recent surveys, though, indicate that there are fewer asteroids threatening Earth than previously believed:

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