A meteorite struck the Earth this week, injuring over 1,100 people near the Russian city of Chalyabinsk, which has a population over 1 million. It weighed 10 tons and lit up the sky, streaking through the atmosphere on its way to impact. It’s the worst recorded impact in history. And it went completely undetected. To quote San Francisco Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper, this is not good, folks.
The idea that the planet can be struck at any time by a space rock that could potentially wipe out a massive amount of the population is scary. Not to seem like Chicken Little, but the sky is always falling, it’s just usually burned up into bits before it hits us. When a large enough rock gets through, it means big trouble. This infographic from the Guardian UK sums it up quite nicely.
The lack of detection could have been due to lack of tracking resources, or it could have been due to the gigantic 2012 DA14 asteroid that narrowly missed the planet. It came so close, in fact, that it passed inside our communications satellites. Had it hit Earth, the impact would have had the power of more than 250 Hiroshima bombs exploding at once in the same place.
A recent discovery showed that within 33,000 years of a massive asteroid hitting the Earth, dinosaurs went extinct. The theory of what killed the dinosaurs can probably be pegged on a massive meteorite impact, at least for the most part. Humans, now the dominant species on the planet, could be next.
It’s not like the Bohemian didn’t see this coming. Or that astronaut Rusty Schweickart, co-founder of the B6-12 foundation, which is dedicated to tracking asteroids and preventing collisions with Earth, hasn’t been trying to explain the importance of this for years. But as he explains, most of the time it takes a tragedy to cement the importance of prevention in people’s minds. Maybe this will be it.