A respected astrophysicist has warned that Earth could be wiped out by a ‘doomsday asteroid’. In order to prevent such a catastrophic event, governments around the globe should spend ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ each year on a global defense system.
In the distant history of Earth, Asteroids and comets have slammed into our planet countless times, and this threat is still present. The last ‘major’ asteroid impact occurred on February 15th, 2013 in Chelyabinsk, Russia. The impact injured around 1500 people. It was the second most intense meteoric event in Russia behind the Tunguska event in 1908 and it leveled more than 2,000 square kilometers of Siberian tundra.
During a press conference in Luxembourg in the lead up to World Asteroid day, Lord Martin Rees, UK Astronomer Royal, said that humans are ‘vulnerable to impacts from outside.’
World Asteroid day is a United Nations event put together to raise awareness about asteroids. Asteroid Day started in 2014, and it’s held on the anniversary of the Tunguska event of 1908 in Siberia, the largest asteroid ‘impact’ of earth in recent history.
According to Lord Rees, a two-pronged approach is necessary to ensure our world could survive an asteroid collision – a better detection system, and a deflection system.
“I think we are all aware that we on planet earth are vulnerable to impacts from outside we know evidence these have happened in the past.”
“It may not be the greatest risk or highest profile short term risk confronting earth, but if you make an assessment of what insurance premium it is worth paying in order to reduce impact, you would come up with a figure of several hundred million euros a year – which the world should be spending to reduce this risk,” said Lord Rees.
According to Lord Rees, if we implemented a better detection system, in combination with an effective deflection system, our planet would be less vulnerable to cosmic threats such as comet or asteroid impacts.
“We know that asteroids pose risks to Earth and recent advances in sensor technology have radically improved our ability to detect and deflect these Near Earth objects,” added Rees.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time experts have warned of the dangers of asteroids and comets were they to impact Earth. In the past, John Holdren director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy said that an impact could “do a lot of damage to the Earth.”