An asteroid collision with Earth poses a major threat to humanity, and we should be sufficiently prepared, experts have warned. NASA’s Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS), which scans the skies for space rocks from its Hawaii base, has warned humanity should prepare itself for an asteroid strike as, although the risk is small, the consequences could be huge – just ask the dinosaurs.
The asteroid which wiped out the dinosaurs around 66 million years ago was believed to be up to 10 miles wide.
While asteroids of that size hitting Earth are extremely rare, another major collision is inevitable.
ATLAS stated on its website: “The risk of a house fire is small but the investment in fire insurance to protect your house (and that of your neighbour) is also small. Simply stated, if your house burns down it can be dangerous, even deadly.
“This argument can be made to protect Earth against asteroid impacts. The impact risk is small, but if a dangerous asteroid is heading for Earth we should be prepared.
“The cost-savings of not building a warning system will be worthless if most of Earth’s population dies because we failed to look for what is approaching.
“Remember that the dinosaurs and about 80 percent of life on the planet was wiped out by an asteroid impact 65 million years ago.
“But dinosaurs had brains the size of walnuts and no opposable thumbs to hit the space bar on a keyboard.
“Humans today have big brains, opposable thumbs and the technology to build a warning system to help save the planet from destruction. Why not make the effort?”
While the chances of a major asteroid hitting Earth are small – NASA believes there is a one-in-300,000 chance every year that a space rock which could cause regional damage will hit – the devastating prospect is not impossible.
And when it does hit Earth, it could spell the end of humanity.
Physicist Rob van den Berg wrote on Q&A site Quora: “Small asteroids are of course pretty harmless, they evaporate in the atmosphere before they reach the ground.
“If they do reach the ground they don’t do all that much damage (compared to what they can do). Sure, it will cost a lot to repair all the windows, but it’s extremely unlikely to actually get hit by one (as far as I know, only two recorded cases of that in all our history).
“The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs had a size of about 10 miles and such impacts only happen every several million years (since this particular one was the last, it has been 65 million years now).
“But no matter how small the chance of it happening in our lifetime, it is pretty much destined that another big one will eventually hit Earth again, some time in the future.”
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