- It has happened before, and it
WILL happen again
FAIR takes the point of view
that debate over asteroid statistics is moot. It
is irrelevant how far, how fast, and from which angle a "near miss" is
projected to be. Our simple approach is to acknowledge that we have been
periodically whacked in history and will be again—perhaps
total termination stuff. We don’t know when purely because astronomers
hunting them are on shoestrings. An earth-shatteringly
unanswered because this future against-the-odds science comes
in a constant second to today’s needs in terms of grants and budgeting
allocations. By joining the FAIR Society, you will help to answer this
epic question. As your fee goes directly to astronomers and is not lost
in excessive red tape, FAIR can contribute at least 95 percent of your modest lifetime membership in support of an exactly audited
and specific project (see
governments come and go, each ignoring the threat, the asteroid gets closer.
They are potentially lethal (and lucrative) larger versions of meteoroids, but unlike their smaller counterparts,
which manifest themselves in the form of eye-catching shooting stars, an asteroid does not vaporise upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere. It is an extraterrestrial missile with the capability of causing global catastrophe. Our planet is bombarded by thousands of particles daily, and it is a scientific fact that one day a larger chunk of space rock will impact our world. The implications of such a collision do not
bear thinking about, and most of us don’t, which is why the science of searching for
near-Earth objects (NEOs) is so grossly underfunded. FAIR
simply advocates sparing this future threat a single once-off thought—it is, after all, not a matter anyone wants to dwell upon.
Finding asteroids is a difficult, grossly underfunded science.
At the moment, a very small portion of the space in our solar system has been scanned. We can't say for certain what the actual risk is
as there simply aren't the funds to finance the hunt.
Asteroids are hard to identify
as they are dark (unlike stars). Even a giant asteroid is minute in celestial terms. Asteroids
also may orbit in an unpredictable manner. All of these facts
conspire to make them difficult to find and track.
Asteroids are a threat—somewhere out there one
on a collision course with our planet.
|The asteroid Eros was discovered on August 13, 1898, by Gustav Witt, director of the Urania Observatory in Berlin, and independently observed on the same date by Auguste H. P. Charlois in Nice, France. In a break with tradition at the time, the asteroid was given a male name: Eros, the Greek god of love, son of Mercury and Venus. |
Scientists use a combination of telescopes and, more recently, a variety of space vehicles to carry out their studies.
Asteroids have passed dangerously close to our planet, and we know of
many others that will shave by in the future. So far
none of the found asteroids are on a direct collision course, but
scientists unanimously agree that one day, any day in the
future - one will have us in its sights.
Within recent history, asteroids have passed through the atmosphere and impacted on or just above the surface of the planet, causing devastation measured in nuclear proportions:
In 1908 an asteroid flattened an area in
In Wabar, Saudi Arabia, an impact crater thought to be thousands of
years old was reanalyzed in 1994 and found to be less than 150 years old.
It is thought that an explosion of the magnitude of the bombing of
Hiroshima occurred in 1863 [more].
|Small NEOs are "a grave threat we should be investing in," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), chairman of the House Science Committee's space subcommittee. "The potential danger of global warming is nothing compared to the potential danger of near-Earth objects."
The Great Daylight 1972 Fireball
(or US19720810) is an Earth-grazing
meteoroid which passed within 57 kilometers (35.4 miles) of the surface
of the Earth at 20:29 UTC on
August 10, 1972. It
entered the Earth's atmosphere in daylight over Utah,
United States (14:30 local time) and passed northwards leaving the
atmosphere over Alberta
|Other natural phenomena, such as typhoons, earthquakes, volcanoes, extremes of weather, cold, heat, monsoons and the conditions they cause such as freezing, fires,
or flooding, and so forth, are localized and only rarely affect more than a particular part of a country. |
Unlike other natural phenomena, a large asteroid impacting anywhere in the world would cause far-reaching and, in all likelihood, international repercussions.
Aside from the immediate physical damage caused to the impact site and surrounding area, the social, organizational, economic, and climatic implications would be significant.
It is commonly held that a sea-based impact (causing massive displacement) and
the resulting tsunami would be even more devastating than a land-based impact.
Frankly, the problem isn't what to do if an asteroid is found; it's a case of finding them first.
We need to find the cause of the problem, preferably well in advance,
then decide how to handle it. An impact will happen, if not in our
lifetimes, then in our children's or grandkids' time; this is an undisputable fact
of the planet's future. Mounting evidence suggests that this future catastrophe is not nearly as remote as previously thought.
This is more than ample justification for taking action now.