Russia to intercept earthbound asteroid?

When first discovered in 2004 the 885 ft asteroid had a 1-in-37 chance of hitting earth in the year 2029.  Upon further studies the asteroid (Apophis) will come no closer than 18, 300 miles.  NASA  has said that the chances of an earth impact in 2036 1-in-45,000, then recalculated and chaneged the estimations to 1-in-250,000.  Another close encounter has NASA saying that Apophis has a 1-in-330,000 chance of hitting earth.

“It wasn’t anything to worry about before. Now it’s even less so,” said Steve Chesley, an astronomer with the Near Earth Object Program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

A scientist, Anatoly Perminov, with the Russian space agency ignored data from NASA and had this to say:

“I don’t remember exactly, but it seems to me it could hit the Earth by 2032.”

With movies such as Deep Impact and Armogeddon talk of a near earth object gets the average persons imagination running wild.  In fact, scientists have researched different scenarios of protecting earth: stearing a space object course by orbiting an unmanned craft around the object, using a nuclear device to destroy the object, etc.

“Calculations show that it’s possible to create a special purpose spacecraft within the time we have, which would help avoid the collision,” Perminov said. “The threat of collision can be averted.”

While the earth rotates around the sun we cross the path of many potential end-of-species objects.  And while having contingency plans for a near earth impact are good and useful, doesn’t it appear that Apophis’ chances of hitting earth are getting smaller?


One thought on “Russia to intercept earthbound asteroid?

  1. Nate

    Intersting, I had not seen this anywhere else online. You have to look at this story in the wider context of Russia’s desire to regain her place on the world’s stage. It’s not so much that they want to save the world, but they want to show that they can save the world if need be. After decades of decline and decay, Russia is beginning to reemerge as a viable competitor to the US economically and politically in the world. True, their military is but a shadow of its Cold War greatness, but they still possess the nuclear deterance to keep us on our toes. Everything that Russia (and Putin) has done in the last five years, from Georgia to the Bulova to arming Iran, is part of a long, slow climb back onto the world’s stage.
    As to the question if they could actually deflect an asteroid, that’s an engineering problem and the Russians have proven extremely adept at solving engineering problems throughout their history. I have no doubt they could, myself.

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