The comment thread for my last post brought up the point that there's nothing we can do about asteroids, so why worry about it?
The cool thing is, we actually can do something about that, and this is a good chance to post more videos. First up, just because it's interesting, here's another impact captured on video...this time it was our moon. Hmm, don't see a good version to link from YouTube, so check out the NASA page containing the video. This one wouldn't have been a threat on Earth, since the meteor wasn't large enough to get through our atmosphere.
In 2001 we actually landed a spacecraft on the asteroid Eros, proving we do have the ability to intercept Near Earth Objects given enough notice. Here is an animation representing the touchdown on the asteroid and ending with the actual photos from the ship as it landed:
That is just one of the most amazing things our species has ever done.
The PERMANENT website has this interesting discussion of the history of impacts, the efforts underway to prevent such an impact, and the possible ways we might do so. These include:
- Blowing it up by nuclear bomb
- Nudging it by nuclear bomb
- Nudging it by kinetic impact
- Thrusting the object
Check out that page for much more detail.
I say: "Bomb an asteroid, save a planet!"