Written By: Ken Hulsey
Source: Associated Press
I was fully prepared to sit down today and write one of my typical articles about monster movies and alternate cinema. That was until I opened up my Yahoo home page and read the headline "Russia may send spacecraft to knock away asteroid". It was at that point that my attention was diverted from my intended subject.
This one is just too good to pass up.
Anatoly Perminov, the head of the Russian space program, told reporters today that his agency is in the early stages of designing a spaceship to be used to alter the course of the 270-meter (885-foot) asteroid "Apophis" to prevent it from hitting the Earth in 2029.
Now, the scenario of an asteroid hitting the Earth has been used in several movies and TV shows over the past few decades including "Deep Impact", "Armageddon", "Meteor" (Okay that one is a bout a meteorite.....same difference), and even in an episode of "The Simpsons."
It seems that sci fi has become science fact.....well as far as the Russians are concerned anyway.
Back when "Apophis" was first discovered back in 2004, scientists had calculated that the chances of the big space rock hitting Earth was 1-in-37. That's a little too close for comfort.
However, those same scientists now believe that the odds of such an impact are now nil, though there are slight chances of a collision in future 'flybys' of "Apophis". Those being 1-in-250,000 in 2036 and 1-in-330,000 in 2068.
The Russians, however, didn't get the memo.
Perminov stated that he had heard from a scientist in Russia who believed that the asteroid was getting closer and would likely hit the Earth, "I don't remember exactly, but it seems to me it could hit the Earth by 2032."
Wait....I have to stop this here. Yes, you read that last part right. The head of the Russian Space Agency thinks that he remembers a scientist saying something about an asteroid hitting the Earth, so he going forward with a project that will likely cost billions to build a spacecraft to divert it.
Okay, as long as we are clear....let's continue.
"People's lives are at stake. We should pay several hundred million dollars and build a system that would allow us to prevent a collision, rather than sit and wait for it to happen and kill hundreds of thousands of people," Perminov added.
Don Yeomans, who heads NASA's Near-Earth Object Program believes that "Apophis" poses no threat to us Earthlings, but likes the Russians enthusiasm, "While Apophis is almost certainly not a problem, I am encouraged that the Russian science community is willing to study the various deflection options that would be available in the event of a future Earth threatening encounter by an asteroid."
Perminov also admitted that there wasn't a specific plan on how to divert an asteroid on the table or what kind of spacecraft would be used, "Calculations show that it's possible to create a special purpose spacecraft within the time we have, which would help avoid the collision, the threat of collision can be averted."
If you may remember, the Russians announced back in 2007 that were planning to build a base on the moon in 2027 and then were planning on a manned mission to Mars in 2035.
You have to really give them credit, there facts may be kinda mixed up, but at least they are trying.
I really haven't heard much from NASA lately.......I think that they are still around......it's hard to tell.....which is really a shame, because there are still some of us that believe that space exploration still has value.
And I don't mean just looking through telescopes and sending out probes.
Am I the only one who thinks that we should have already landed a man on Mars by now?
Of course, it all won't make a difference if we are clocked out by an asteroid in 2029.
See Also: 40 Years Since Apollo 8 / Does Mars Have Wood? / Nasa Photo Shows Human-like Figure On Mars
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