Could We Save Us From An Asteroid Approaching Earth?

From what would determine a need for alarm,
to what we can do to stop it, join me as we explore whether we could stop an asteroid
from impacting Earth! There’s a reason why an asteroid coming to
Earth on a collision course is a bad thing. Because it could, in potential, wipe out the
entire world. The other thing is that it’s not an impossible
act. There are comets, meteors, asteroids, and
even bigger things whirling around in outer space, and some of them do come by Earth. One even came and exploded in our atmosphere
in 2013 and did some major damage to a forest in Russia, so yeah, it’s something we need
to pay attention to, and many people at NASA and beyond do just that. The real question here though about whether
we could deter such a thing is size. Confused? Don’t be, it’s honestly really simple. You may not realize it, but comets and meteors
and asteroids actually come to Earth quite often. Meteor showers are one example of this. So why don’t we fear them? Well, they’re not big enough to cause damage. And the definition of an asteroid is not a
“massive rock that can wipe out the planet”, because some asteroids are only 3 feet in
diameter, which means they aren’t that big. And even IF one that size did come to Earth,
it wouldn’t cause much damage depending on where it landed. Not to mention, ANY rock that comes to Earth
has to deal with our natural defense system…the atmosphere. The Earth’s atmosphere doesn’t just keep the
air of our world in, it helps keep things out via heat. So if something tries to enter or leave the
atmosphere, they’ll have to deal with extreme temperatures as they barrel through it. That’s why space shuttles have heat shields
to prevent the craft from breaking up in the atmosphere. As for meteors, as they come into the atmosphere,
the heat of trying to get into the deeper parts of the atmosphere often makes them disintegrate,
which makes them no threat to the Earth. Asteroid of a certain size will have to face
that same thing. That being said, we’ve all heard about major
asteroids lurking out there in space. Heck, between Jupiter and Saturn is a massive
asteroid belt that is full of asteroids that could take us out. And the bigger the ones that come to the Earth,
the bigger problem we’ll be in. For if it’s big enough, the atmosphere can’t
burn it all off, which is why meteorites are found on Earth sometimes. To potentially kill the Earth though, we’re
talking one of continental size. Heck, even one the size of Texas could potentially
wipe us out for good. Because of this fear of a giant asteroid,
NASA keeps constant watch over what’s coming into space. I’m sure you’ve seen articles on asteroids
that may or may not reach the Earth by year 20XX, and those may or may not be accurate,
it just depends. But should an asteroid of massive size get
on a collision course with Earth, we’re all in trouble for the most part. So, let’s pretend an asteroid of massive size
is on a collision course to Earth, and for one reason or another we can’t stop it. What would happen then? What would happen to the planet? Well, as the science equation goes, Force
=Mass * Acceleration. We know the mass would have to be huge to
cause potential planetary destruction, and the speed it would be going at to both reach
Earth and punch through the atmosphere would have to be significant enough. Heck, if it was going super slow, the sheer
size of it would be enough to cause widespread destruction. The biggest problem though would be when it
breaks through the atmosphere and touches down on the ground. The force of the impact would be almost unimaginable. Think about the Hiroshima or Nagasaki bombs,
the ones that basically wiped the cities off of the face of Earth. Try and remember the fallout of that, and
times that by about one hundred or maybe even a thousand depending on the size. That’s about what I’m talking about here. Forget about just nuclear and fire damage,
I’m talking the energy released from an irresistible force (the asteroid) meeting an immoveable
object (the Earth), such a collision will literally vaporize just about anything in
the immediate area. If you don’t believe that, look up pictures
of believed meteor craters. Notice how there’s a big hole in the ground
with no sign of what was there before? That’s basically what it would be like if
it hit a city, country, or continent. The immediate area-of-effect would depend
on how big the asteroid is naturally, but if it lands in a populated area, the casualties
would be immense. There was a study done about what would happen
if a 10 kilometer asteroid hit New York, just the immediate impact of the rock was estimated
to kill about 2.5 million people in just the first few seconds of the impact strike. 2.5 million. And that’s not considering the collateral
damage or the subsequent damage that the asteroid would bring. “Wait a minute!”, you ask, “What about if
a giant meteor hit the ocean? Would that save us?” That’s a good question, but sadly, the answer
isn’t much better depending on how you look at it. Picture yourself at a lake. You find yourself wanting to shake things
up, so you pick up a rock and drop it into the lake. What happens? That’s right, ripples come out from the water
and literally go out in all directions. The more force you put into that rock, the
bigger the ripples, right? Well, if an asteroid of immense size hit the
waters of an ocean, you can expect a much more grand ripple effect. More than likely, the water that isn’t instantly
evaporated will be turned into tidal waves that will go out in all directions and potentially
wipe out any and all land in their path. The catch though, is that like the rock you
dropped in the lake water, the ripples of the asteroid would dissipate rather quickly. So the only real hope is that the meteor hits
the ocean in an area that isn’t populated by humans. Which is possible, but that doesn’t mean there
wouldn’t be consequences even if it was. Though many scientists agree that a massive
asteroid hitting the ocean and not land would be the “best case scenario”, they also acknowledge
that if that piece of water was anywhere near a piece of land, it would be very, very bad. Which brings us to the most important question
of all… Can humanity stop an asteroid from colliding
with the Earth? That is the question, isn’t it? We’ve all seen movies and TV shows talking
about what humanity could do if a massive asteroid came on a collision course with Earth,
but the fact remains, could we actually do anything about it? If we knew it was coming, could we stop it
from impacting us and destroying the world? Well, the answer is yes, no, and maybe. First off, as noted before, teams like NASA
are working hard to ensure that any and all comets, meteors, and asteroids within a certain
range of Earth are known, identified, and then speculated about whether they’ll hit
Earth of not. And with the technology and satellite imagery
that we have today, it’s honestly getting easier for them to do and predict. And they all acknowledge that asteroid strikes
are a real threat, and thus don’t want to be caught off guard should one appear that
could cause damage. Granted, there have been times when asteroids
have come REALLY close to hitting Earth and NASA and others missed it, including one time
an asteroid of immense size almost collided with the Earth…but missed us by a matter
of hours thanks to speed and positioning. But that’s rare, and with the various tools
at the space agency’s disposal, it makes sense that we would detect a major asteroid heading
our way with at least a LITTLE time to prepare. Now, let’s assume one is found to be heading
towards the Earth, does humanity have the ability to take it out? Well…no one really knows. We’ve made plans, numerous countries and institutions
have done simulations about could be done should one get too close, but the simple fact
is, there’s no guarantee that anything they try will work. For example, the immediate, and likely most
obvious, option is to send a nuclear warhead at the asteroid and blow it up that way. Problem is, the asteroid is in space, and
nuclear warheads aren’t equipped to do that, and if you explode it in the atmosphere, you
risk destroying the planet you’re trying to save in a much different way via radiation. There’s also the issue that even if you didn’t
destroy the atmosphere, you could break up the asteroid into smaller yet just as deadly
pieces. Pieces which could massively destroy most
of the planet instead of just one section…potentially. Oh, and as for the classic, “Send a crew of
people to the asteroid and have them blow it up”, yeah, that’s not a really good option. First off, landing on an asteroid that is
moving potentially very fast isn’t easy. It’s not like landing on the moon. Second, just like the nuclear option, if you
don’t blow it up the right way, you’re sending massive chunks at the Earth rather than just
one chunk. We’re screwed either way. So then, what are we doing to try and stop
this from happening? Simple, we’re preparing. It’s impossible to know when the asteroid
will hit, or even if it will hit. Because of that, people from all over are
researching any and all options that are viable to try and get us as prepared as we can be. They’re testing options for deflecting a large
asteroid, preparing options in case the asteroid is solid, hollow, made of one substance or
many, testing the power of lasers to see if it can be melted away, and more. And most importantly, they’re trying to give
us time to prepare should the worst come to pass. Because with enough prep time and teamwork,
just about any obstacle can be avoided, and with the fate of the world on the line, you
definitely want to have both. “Ok, it’s good to hear that they’re “preparing”,
but what exactly are the best plans that are available to us right now?” Well, if you MUST know, NASA has been running
simulations and scenarios recently on plans to try and combat an asteroid that is coming
to Earth. Granted, they are doing it in the “we have
7 years to prepare” kind of way, but hey, it counts. One of the first things they would do is actually
make spacecraft to intercept and study the asteroid so that we could determine size,
mass, composition in regards to the rocks and metals that might make it up, and so much
more. Then, the plan is to in one form or another,
and again this is just an idea or plan that they have right now, slow down or speed up
the asteroid. “How would that help us?” Think about it, if an asteroid was to collide
with Earth, that would mean that its speed and trajectory would perfectly match up with
the orbit of the Earth around the sun, right? Which would mean that as long as it stays
on that course and trajectory, it would hit us. But…if we slowed it down, or speed it up
just enough…it would miss us. But how do you do that? Kinetic energy from various spacecraft, probes,
or even bombs. If done the right way, and in the right place,
they could deliver a blast that is just enough to slow it down, or make it lighter to speed
it up, and thus it’d change its impact time and placement. Another offshoot of this is to deflect the
asteroid via an impact guided by us. And this is something that was tested on a
comet back in 2005. They slammed a probe into a comet called Tempel
1, and they delivered a massive blast that took the comet off of its course. It wouldn’t be easy, not by a long shot, but
if we deflected it just enough, and in the right way…it would miss us entirely, or
even go shooting off in another direction of space that we wouldn’t have to worry about. Oh, and you want to hear a really cool “laser”
theory, there is one plane to take a space probe, land it on the asteroid itself, and
then use a “laser” to melt the surface of the rock to initiate puffs of gas from within
the rock to blow it off course. Which is honestly possible as we know meteors
and asteroids do this when in the right conditions, but of course, the question of whether we
can get a laser to the asteroid and then power it long enough to knock it off course is questionable
at best. From there, the ideas to deal with the asteroid
get pretty sci-fi, from getting an engine to the asteroid in order to move it away,
to actually trying the Earth itself to move quicker along its orbit, and so on and so
forth. It’s good that there are ideas out there,
but at times you need a reality check. Right now, we’re in a place where we know
we don’t have an asteroid barreling towards us. But should that change, and if we know that
it would cause the danger we all fear it would, then you can bet that the Earth will unite
to try and solve the problem. And as long as we have time to deal with it,
we’re going to try. But can we actually deflect an asteroid away
from the Earth? We’ll never know until we are in a situation
to do so. Thanks for watching everyone! What did you think of this look at what we
would do if an asteroid came to Earth? Do you think we have a chance to knock one
away? Do you think we’re doomed? Let me know in the comments below, be sure
to subscribe, and I’ll see you next time on the channel!


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