It’s only a matter of time before we see another Big One–an extinction level collision with an asteroid that will have us join our Jurassic brethren. That will be a very, very bad day.
Or maybe it won’t be quite that bad–another Tunguska or Cheylabinsk, perhaps (What is it with Russia and asteroids?)–but it still won’t be pretty. At the very least, we’ll be left to clean up a big mess.
But it doesn’t have to happen, according to guys like Queen guitarist Brian May, who, in case you didn’t know, has a doctorate in astrophysics. He’s part of a group who want to declare June 30 as Asteroid Day. The Guardian explains:
It is a real risk, say a group of astronauts and astronomers who are to highlight the threat facing humanity by marking 30 June as Asteroid Day. Supporters includeMartin Rees, the astronomer royal; guitarist Brian May; biologist Richard Dawkins; Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart; Nobel laureate Sir Harold Kroto; British astronaut Helen Sharman; and cosmonaut Alexey Leonov. Their aim is to highlight the dangers facing Earth and to help raise funds to build satellites to track deadly asteroids that may be lurking in near-Earth space.
The chosen date marks the anniversary of the “Tunguska event”, when a small asteroid or comet exploded above Siberia with the force of 1,000 atomic bombs. The largest impact event on Earth in recorded history, it occurred on 30 June 1908.
“Asteroid impacts are one of the few threats we can quantify,” Lord Rees said. “Every 10 million years or so, a body a few kilometres across will hit the Earth, causing global catastrophe – there are a few chances in a million that this is how we will die. However, there are larger numbers of smaller asteroids that could cause regional or local devastation. A body that is, say, 300 metres across, if it fell into the Atlantic, would produce huge tsunamis that would devastate much of Europe as well as the east coast of the US. And still smaller impacts are more frequent – like the one at Tunguska in 1908.” [This has been put at between 60 and 190 metres across.]
Read the whole story here.