Commentary

Cosmic Warning Shots

by henry vanderbilt

It’s one thing to know intellectually that you live in the middle of a shooting gallery. It’s another to calmly anticipate a long-spotted near-miss by a city-killer sized asteroid, then be startled by a different rock coming in with no warning whatsoever, that, had it held together another few seconds, would have killed a city.

And it’s something else entirely to spot a civilization-killer sized comet headed almost directly for the planet next door, and to ask yourself: If it had been headed for our house instead, could we have done anything about it?

We decided to take what’s known so far about Comet 2013-A1
(http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/02/28/mars_impact_the_red_planet_may_get_hit_by_a_comet_in_october_2014.html)
and run the ballpark numbers. If it was coming straight at us (no more or less likely than it coming straight at Mars), and given our existing space capabilities, could we do anything about it other than prepare to die?

The short answer is: Maybe.

Read more: Cosmic Warning Shots | Moonandback.

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