Hypothetical Asteroid crashes into Earth even with 6 months lead-time

It’s the Doomsday event that reigns supreme over all others: An asteroid, on a collision course with Earth, is discovered with very little time to prevent a possible impact.

In addition to being wonderful fodder for blockbuster movies, this scenario was also the inspiration for a tabletop exercise with NASA scientists at the International Academy of Astronautics’ Planetary Defense Conference last week. The asteroid drill is a mainstay of the biennial conference, but this year was different for two reasons: 1) The event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2) the fictional 2021 asteroid could not be stopped despite the scientists’ best efforts, even with a nuclear option…

“One of the objectives of this exercise is to get the disaster management and emergency response community more involved and thinking about what they would be facing if we didn’t have the time to divert an asteroid in space, and did have to take the impact somewhere,”…

“To mount a campaign, even a single mission, given our current state of the technology and how we do these deep space missions, we need a lead time, I would say, of a minimum of two years, and we’d be much more comfortable if it were five years,”…

As a result, the team recommended the development of rapid response spacecraft launches that could blast off within days or weeks of notice.

Nice that they reached a conclusion that might reduce this potential disaster. RTFA for the variables wandering through this part of the exercise. There is new tech in the pipeline that might give us better odds of sorting out a similar danger.

I have to wonder how many times folks have been analyzing this danger to our planet – without concluding it was time to get prepared.

12 thoughts on “Hypothetical Asteroid crashes into Earth even with 6 months lead-time

      • Gorillla juice says:

        “The reptilian complex (also known as the “R-complex”, “reptilian brain” or “lizard brain”) was the name American physician and neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean gave to the basal ganglia, structures derived from the floor of the forebrain during development. The term derives from the idea that comparative neuroanatomists once believed that the forebrains of reptiles and birds were dominated by these structures. MacLean proposed that the reptilian complex was responsible for species-typical instinctual behaviours involved in aggression, dominance, territoriality, and ritual displays.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triune_brain

  1. Cassandra says:

    Here’s How Many Years in Advance We’d Need to Stop a Killer Asteroid Coming For Earth https://www.sciencealert.com/here-s-how-many-years-in-advance-we-d-need-to-stop-a-killer-asteroid-coming-for-earth
    :…The experts determined that no existing technologies could stop the asteroid from striking, given the scenario’s six-month window. There isn’t a spacecraft capable of destroying an asteroid or pushing it off its path that could get off the ground and fly to the rock in that amount of time.
    Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, helped host the recent simulation, as well as five previous ones like it. He said this exercise set the participants up for failure.
    “It’s what we call a short-warning scenario,” he told Insider. “It was, by design, very challenging.”
    In reality, if an asteroid like that fictional one were heading for Earth, scientists would need years – not months – of warning. Five years is the minimum, according to Chodas. Others, like MIT astronomer Richard Binzel, say we’d need at least a decade.”
    But scientists haven’t identified most of the hazardous space rocks that pass near our planet, which makes the chances slim that we’d get a five- or 10-year warning period. In 2005, Congress attempted to address this issue by mandating that NASA find and track 90% of all near-Earth objects 140 meters (460 feet) or larger. At that size, asteroids could obliterate a city the size of New York. But to date, NASA has only spotted about 40% of those objects.
    “What that means is, for now, we are relying on luck to keep us safe from major asteroid impacts,” Binzel said. “But luck is not a plan.”
    NASA is planning a mission to track down asteroids that are too dim for telescopes on Earth to see. The NEO Surveyor Mission, as it’s known (NEO stands for near-Earth object), would launch an infrared telescope into Earth’s orbit in 2026. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-Earth_Object_Surveillance_Mission

  2. Space Ace says:

    NASA will attempt to deflect an asteroid with what the space agency is calling a ‘Double Asteroid Redirection Test’, or DART. https://www.tweaktown.com/news/81198/nasa-will-attempt-to-deflect-an-asteroid-impact-happen-next-fall/index.html
    DART is a planetary defense-driven test of technologies for preventing an impact of Earth by a hazardous asteroid. DART will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impactor technique to change the motion of an asteroid in space. https://www.nasa.gov/planetarydefense/dart
    This November, the spacecraft will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base near Lompoc, California.​ In the fall of 2022, DART will have its sights set for Dimorphos, the smaller moonlet orbiting the larger Didymos asteroid. Its collision with Dimorphos will change the speed of the moonlet’s orbit around the main body by several minutes. And despite being approximately 6.8 million miles away from Earth at the time of impact, the asteroid system will be visible to ground-based telescopes, which scientists will use to determine the exact change in the orbital period. https://www.nasa.gov/feature/dart-gets-its-wings-spacecraft-integrated-with-innovative-solar-array-technology-and-camera

    • Update says:

      The DART mission, or NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, will lift off at 10:20 p.m. PT on November 23 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
      After launching in November, NASA will test its asteroid deflection technology in September 2022 to see how it impacts the motion of a near-Earth asteroid in space. https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/05/world/nasa-dart-asteroid-mission-launch-date-scn/index.html
      “The DART mission, managed by the Planetary Defense Coordination Office, involves sending a pair of satellites out to a relatively nearby pair of asteroids, known as the Didymos binary. It’s one large-ish asteroid, approximately 780 meters across — that’s Didymos proper — and a 160-meter “moonlet” in its orbit.
      As the moonlet is more typical of the type likely to threaten Earth — there being more asteroids that are that size and not easily observed — we will be testing the possibility of intercepting one by smashing into it at nearly 15,000 miles per hour. This will change the speed of the moonlet by a mere fraction of a percent, but enough that its orbit period will be affected measurably. Knowing exactly how much will help us plan any future asteroid-deflection missions — not surprisingly, there isn’t a lot of existing science on ramming your spacecraft into space rocks.
      A companion spacecraft, called the Light Italian CubeSat for Imagine Asteroids, or LICIACube, just had the finishing touches put on it last week and will be launched shortly before the operation and will attempt to fly by at the very moment of impact and capture “the resultant plume of ejecta and possibly the newly-formed impact crater.” https://techcrunch.com/2021/10/04/nasas-armageddon-style-asteroid-deflection-mission-takes-off-in-november/

  3. p/s says:

    “How a Nuclear Bomb Could Save Earth From a Stealthy Asteroid : An atomic blast is not the preferred solution for planetary defense, but 3-D models are helping scientists prepare for a worst-case scenario.” (NYT) https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/18/science/asteroid-nuclear-bomb.html
    Using high-fidelity simulations, scientists reported in a study published earlier this month that a stealthy asteroid as long as 330 feet could be annihilated by a one-megaton nuclear device, with 99.9 percent of its mass being blasted out of Earth’s way, if the asteroid is attacked at least two months before impact.
    See “Late-time small body disruptions for planetary defense” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0094576521003921?via%3Dihub
    Meanwhile: “A series of asteroids bigger than the Great Pyramid of Giza is passing by Earth” (Oct 18, 2021) https://local12.com/news/nation-world/a-series-of-asteroids-bigger-than-the-great-pyramid-of-giza-is-passing-by-earth-astroid-planet-gravitational-pull-attraction

  4. Space Ace says:

    Near-Earth asteroid is a fragment from the moon, say scientists https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/nov/11/near-earth-asteroid-is-a-fragment-from-the-moon-say-scientists
    The team are unsure how the piece of moon came to be adrift in space, in part, because there are no other known asteroids with lunar origins. However, they narrowed down the timeframe for the violent event to have occurred between 100,000 and 500 years ago.
    The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications Earth and Environment. https://www.nature.com/articles/s43247-021-00303-7

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