Earth is due for an extinction event that is brought about by an asteroid says a scientist from NASA and if that happens in near future, we Earthlings are unprepared.
Speaking at the annual meeting of American Geophysical Union NASA scientist Dr Joseph Nuth said that while big asteroids are not as common as the ones we often hear about or seen in the news that explode in the atmosphere, every 50-60 million years Earth is struck by one of these massive asteroids or comets and all hell breaks lose. If we go by that timeline, according to Dr Nuth “we’re due”; however, the time frame can’t be predicted with certainty.
The scientists also stated if in case we do detect a near-Earth object that is on its way to closely fly past Earth or is actually on a crash-course with our planet, “there is not a hell of a lot we can do about it at the moment.”
Celestial bodies like comets and asteroids follow distant paths from Earth, but they sometimes get knocked into our neighbourhood because of a range of reasons including gravity of larger planets in our Solar System or the gravity of our Sun itself.
Pointing out the close encounters that other planets had with comets – Jupiter and Mars in 1996 and 2014 respectively, Dr Nuth says that the possibility of Earth having such an encounter can’t be ruled out. Another startling thing that the scientist pointed out was that in case of the asteroid that nearly struck Mars in 2014, we detected it only 22 months prior to its close encounter and that effectively means that if the same asteroid would have been flying past Earth at such a close distance – possibly even in striking range – we couldn’t have made a spacecraft that could have deflected the asteroid because according to projections it would take NASA nearly four years to make and launch an asteroid / comet deflection mission.