Asteroids Strike Earth With Nuclear Force Twice a Year

Asteroids Strike Earth With Nuclear Force Twice a Year

According to sensors that detect nuclear explosions, our planet has been hit by 26 asteroids since the year 2000.

For a brief period in the late 90s, pop culture got really concerned about cataclysmic asteroid strikes, to the point of making two Hollywood blockbusters about them. Over the past decade we've calmed down somewhat; asteroid detection technology advanced to the point that we can see civilization-killers years in advance, and the chances of being hit in the immediate future are incredibly small. But perhaps the space rocks which drive species to extinction aren't our most immediate problem; it's the smaller ones with enough energy to wipe out a city before you can say "I don't want to close my eyes". Oh, and on average, these asteroids seem to hit Earth twice a year.

At least that's what what the B612 Foundation is saying, based on findings from the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization. From 2000-2013, the organization operated a worldwide sensor network to monitor nuclear explosions, but instead picked up several detonations that didn't fit with nuclear weaponry. It turns out that the sensor network was doing a great job of picking up atmospheric asteroid impacts, uncovering 26 explosions within this time frame.

The good news is these explosions occurred in the atmosphere, far above the point where they'd cause extensive ground damage. What's disconcerting is that these detonations aren't tiny, as each impact unleashed anywhere from 1 to 600 kilotons. For comparison, the Hiroshima atomic bomb exploded with 15 kilotons of force, similar to the 1908 Tunguska Event. Meanwhile, the near miss asteroid that injured hundreds when it burst above Chelyabinsk, Russia emitted at least 500 kilotons.

"While most large asteroids with the potential to destroy an entire country or continent have been detected, less than 10,000 of the more than a million dangerous asteroids with the potential to destroy an entire major metropolitan area have been found by all existing space or terrestrially-operated observatories," said Dr. Ed Lu, former astronaut and B612 CEO. "Because we don't know where or when the next major impact will occur, the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a "city-killer" sized asteroid has been blind luck."

It's these middle-range asteroids, somewhere in-between civilization-destroying behemoths and shooting stars, that B612 hopes will be detected by the in-development Sentinel telescope. In the meantime, this data should go a long way towards understanding the frequency of asteroid impacts, although hopefully we won't need Bruce Willis to prevent them just yet.

Source: B612 Foundation, via The Register

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kinda goes to show how wrong people are when they suggest Humanity is swarming/swamping the planet.

Fanghawk:
The good news is these explosions occurred in the atmosphere, far above the point where they'd cause extensive ground damage. What's disconcerting is that these detonations aren't tiny, as each impact unleashed anywhere from 1 to 600 kilotons. For comparison, the Hiroshima atomic bomb exploded with 15 kilotons of force, similar to the 1908 Tunguska Event. Meanwhile, the near miss asteroid that injured hundreds when it burst above Chelyabinsk, Russia emitted at least 500 kilotons.

That's because the asteroid was actually a US missile.

^a theory that actually exists

Anyhow, it's weird to think that we're getting nuked twice a year. I guess the world isn't so small after all.

lacktheknack:
Anyhow, it's weird to think that we're getting nuked twice a year. I guess the world isn't so small after all.

I find it quite reassuring, the Paris scene from Armageddon happens twice a year and nobody even notices, It's a rare thing for Michael Bay to have not included enough explosions in his movies.

space is such a bitch

Sleekit:
kinda goes to show how wrong people are when they suggest Humanity is swarming/swamping the planet.

Swamping the planet?!

Well whoever is saying that clearly needs his eyes checked.

If however you mean the people going on about overpopulation (a very real problem since the current human population is beginning to exceed the carrying capacity of the environment we live in. Or at least it seems that way because the top 1% of the world is hoarding a lot of high-quality food and much of which goes to waste), then they may have a point.

Overpopulation isn't just as simple as "available space". You need to factor in several factors like carrying capacity of the environment.

Thanks for the nightmare fuel.

At least the atmosphere seems to be stopping them, man am I glad we have a nice atmosphere on this planet, it would be such a shame if anything happened to it...

Well, I wasn't planning on sleeping tonight anyway.

I had no idea asteroid impacts were that common, we truly do live in a cosmic shooting gallery.

My, my, what an interesting article. Wouldn't be ironic if one of those twice a year explosions just happened a couple months ago ... say somewhere of the Indian Ocean ... just asking. Would explain why it took so long for them to 'find' it and their 'evidence' to come forward, just saying.
Either way, the danger does exist; it has happened in the past and will happen again. It just a matter of the dice roll because you never really know what forces out there will just happen to something at just the wrong time. Just wish we could spend more money on finding them and develop the technology to combat it instead of wasting it on imaginary problems ... but that just me being an all flat earther type.

It's a matter of fact that we would never actually need Bruce Willis for this. Much as we like Bruce, the truth is that a well-placed nuclear missle can indeed alter an asteroid's trajectory away from the Earth. The only problem is that it IS rocket science.

FalloutJack:
Much as we like Bruce, the truth is that a well-placed nuclear missle can indeed alter an asteroid's trajectory away from the Earth. The only problem is that it IS rocket science.

The other problem is that in space there are no shockwaves, so a missile would have to actually hit the asteroid, and in the right spot too. That's easier said than done when talking about an object of very small size (relatively speaking) that's moving at many times the speed of sound.

Carnagath:

FalloutJack:
Much as we like Bruce, the truth is that a well-placed nuclear missle can indeed alter an asteroid's trajectory away from the Earth. The only problem is that it IS rocket science.

The other problem is that in space there are no shockwaves, so a missile would have to actually hit the asteroid, and in the right spot too. That's easier said than done when talking about an object of very small size (relatively speaking) that's moving at many times the speed of sound.

It also runs the risk of turning the asteroid into a radioactive shotgun spread. Basically, if you blow the thing up but don't sufficiently alter its trajectory, it becomes a lot harder to estimate where it will impact and there's a reasonable chance of the Earth's atmosphere having to deal with radioactive dust.

It's far safer (and far less dramatic) to spot the thing early and send a small drone up to the asteroid to attach a solar sail to it. That'll alter the trajectory reasonably quickly, and take Earth out of the firing line. Failing that, a space laser is easier to aim than a nuke, and would be more effective at getting an asteroid to change direction. (Burn a hole in the side of the thing, evaporating some of its content and giving it a sideways kick.)

The_Darkness:

Carnagath:

FalloutJack:
Much as we like Bruce, the truth is that a well-placed nuclear missle can indeed alter an asteroid's trajectory away from the Earth. The only problem is that it IS rocket science.

The other problem is that in space there are no shockwaves, so a missile would have to actually hit the asteroid, and in the right spot too. That's easier said than done when talking about an object of very small size (relatively speaking) that's moving at many times the speed of sound.

It also runs the risk of turning the asteroid into a radioactive shotgun spread. Basically, if you blow the thing up but don't sufficiently alter its trajectory, it becomes a lot harder to estimate where it will impact and there's a reasonable chance of the Earth's atmosphere having to deal with radioactive dust.

There's that, but the individual fragments will burn up a lot more than an intact thing. As for radiation, various powers have gone around testing above ground nuclear devices back in the day...not great, but not that bad.

Fanghawk:
said Dr. Ed Lu, former astronaut and B612 CEO. "Because we don't know where or when the next major impact will occur, the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a "city-killer" sized asteroid has been blind luck."

Yeah...because if we were tracking every single asteroid, we're totally in a position to do anything about it.

Avaholic03:

Fanghawk:
said Dr. Ed Lu, former astronaut and B612 CEO. "Because we don't know where or when the next major impact will occur, the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a "city-killer" sized asteroid has been blind luck."

Yeah...because if we were tracking every single asteroid, we're totally in a position to do anything about it.

actually, we could be. Germans are live-testing their laser defense system that actually works in taking down falling bombs at 100% accuracy even in bad weather now. US Drones can easily help with locating. we could have an asteroids defence network and use missiles for the bigger ones. the question is, just how much new ihone every year luxury are we going to give up for it. and the answer is none of course, because humans can only think short term.

 

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