The meteor that exploded over Russia last week dominated the news last week. Fortunately for us it was a little guy and never hit the ground. According to NASA this was the largest reported blast since the Tunguska event in 1908. The types of meteors likely hit the us more often than we know since the Earth is over 70% water. The ubiquity of digital video recording will likely reveal these type of events more often than ever before.
Meteors are the greatest threat to the future survival of human race. Space Daily reports that Russian astronomers Andrey Oreshko and Timur Kryachko discovered another asteroid 2012 YQ1 that is predicted to hit Earth in 2106. The article goes on to speculate that those of us in the Y2K generation may be around to see this due to likely advances in medicine, biochemistry, and nanotechnology. The clock is ticking to the next extinction level event. My hope is that the idea of a doomsday asteroid will continue to grow in the public consciousness thus pushing public policy and private industry forward to come up with solutions to this problem. The good news is we are developing the technology to avoid this awful fate.
In my opinion asteroid mining is the key. There are already two start-ups, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, competing to launching tiny space telescopes to prospect for valuable asteroids in Earth’s neighborhood. The discoveries of the telescopes along with the efforts of vigilant astronomers could find and predict the course of asteroids whizzing by Earth. The technologies these two companies develop to capture and exploit these valuable asteroids could also be used to redirect asteroids away from Earth thus buying us the time to spread the human race to the stars and preserve the home-world. I’m very optimistic and hope that the public, private investors, and government will come together to collaborate on this grand project to preserve the future of the human race. If not, we may witness the destruction of the human-race along with our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren in 2106.
UPDATE – 3/15/2013
Planetary Resources published an article describing how asteroid mining will provide the capabilities to defend Earth from asteroids.
We talk about Asteroid Mining in Episode 0.5, check it out.
Here’s a look at Planetary Resources space telescope technology:
The Deep Space Industries proposal: