Not quite Armageddon…

…or even Deep Impact. No roughneck oil drillers dropping nukes down holes, no Morgan Freeman “Life will go on” speeches, no quirky one-liners by American heroes on a suicide mission to drive their shuttle into the side of a big hairy rock, and no fucking Aerosmith songs. Nothing like that at all, but not far off. The European Space Agency have announced that they have selected two target asteroids for a planned mission to impact an asteroid in an attempt to deflect the asteroid off course by a ‘measurable amount’. The mission “Don Quijote” [to be renamed "oh holy Jesus fuck" when scientists realise they have pushed the asteroid onto a collision course with Earth] will send two spacecraft to a target asteroid, one of which (Hidalgo) will impact the asteroid while the other (Sancho) will orbit the asteroid for a few months, observing it before and after the collision. It might be no harm to start learning how to drill big holes in floating rocks because someday, when ya least expect it, that call might come…

*brrring brrrrrrrring*
maca: “Talk to me!”
Prez: “Maca, it’s the President”
maca: “Awright big lad, what’s the craic?”
Prez: “Maca, we have a rock, it’s a big one, we need your help”
maca: “Have me shuttle warmin up, i’m on my way”
“Nora, can ya make a few hang sangwiches an’ a flask a tae … now love, i’m in a hurry …”

p.s. Just wondering, many of these asteroids have been floating around for yonks. They have carved out a nice little path for themselves over time, cruising around the solar system. Then we pop off a wee blast sending the asteroid off on a new course. Do we know where it’s going to end up or what effect a tiny deflection might actually have?

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  1. Couldn’t these eggheads come up with a some other experiment? Fair enough it’s better than those ones telling us the best way to butter toast but still…

  2. Ya never know UI, it may actually save our lives. You know what prompted this?

    “On 19 December 2004 MN4, an asteroid of about 400 m, lost since its discovery six months earlier, was observed again and its orbit was computed. It immediately became clear that the chances that it could hit the Earth during a close encounter in 2029 were unusually high. As the days passed the probability did not decrease and the asteroid became notorious for surpassing all previous records in the Torino and Palermo impact risk scales – scales that measure the risk of an asteroid impact just as the Richter scale quantifies the size of an earthquake.”

    “Only after earlier observations of the object were found and a more accurate trajectory was computed did it become clear that it would not impact the Earth – at least not in 2029.”

    I’d consider that to be a close call. Asteroid strikes are not confined to cinema screens, it may be something we have to face one day. The risk may be minute but better to plan ahead and be prepared in time, just in case.

  3. oh dear I have mixed feelings here. The ostrich in me would prefer not to know! The survivor in me is glad that they are at least attempting to set out a means of dealing with that possibility/probability.