Meteor Sparks Space Safety Fears And Alerts

by Editor

It seems that the entire planet is engulfed in meteorite frenzy in wake of Russia’s spectacular meteorite collision. Scientists have responded by highlighting the fact that the earth is extremely vulnerable to such events and that there is little or no defence systems in place that are capable of dealing with meteorite collisions.

AS RUSSIAN authorities search for remnants of the space object that startled  residents of the Chelyabinsk region,  scientists said its shock wave was a loud  warning they hoped would inspire action to prevent potential catastrophes.

”When a small piece of rock would fall on the Earth 100 years ago, it could  have caused minimal damage and would have stayed largely undetected, but  Friday’s accident fully demonstrated how vulnerable the technological  civilisation of today has become,” said Vladimir Lipunov, head of the Space  Monitoring Laboratory with Moscow State University.

”It is high time Russia should start investing heavily in building an  advanced space danger monitoring and warning system and a system capable of  destroying such super bombs falling on us,” he said.

Read more: The Age

A further breakthrough in space security comes as scientists scurry to obtain funding to build or complete early warning systems aimed at detecting dangerous meteors before they hit the planet.

The Earth may have survived  its close encounters with an asteroid and a meteor Friday, but the episodes focused new attention on gaps in astronomers’ ability to identify smaller space rocks like these capable of inflicting widespread destruction.

Efforts to better identify those threats are underway, including a new space telescope from a Silicon Valley foundation, and a coordinated telescope system in Hawaii.

“We’re carrying out the most ambitious interplanetary space mission ever. We’re building a space telescope, we’re going to find them and track them so we have decades of notice before another one of these hits,” says Ed Lu, a former shuttle and International Space Station astronaut who heads the B612 Foundation. If it is able to raise $450 million, the scientists plan to launch a meteor-mapping satellite in 2017 or 2018.

Meanwhile,  a team at the University of Hawaii is working on ATLAS: The Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System, with the aid of a $5 million grant from NASA. Using eight small telescopes, the asteroid detection system would scan  the sky twice a night looking for objects moving through space.  The plan is to have the system operational by the end of 2015. They predict their system could offer a one-week warning for a 50-yard diameter asteroid, or “city killer,” and three weeks for a 150-yard-diameter “county killer.”

Read more: USA Today

Natural disasters and events like the meteorite in Russia serve to remind us of the fragile nature of our existence. In the blink of an instant, nature can take away from us what we take for granted, without remorse.

Events like the Russian meteorite have a much bigger impact upon society today as populations are spread out over a much larger area.

Astronomical events like solar flares are also of massive concern as the electromagnetic radiation emitted during these cosmic events can wipe out communications and electrical systems.

What are you thoughts? Do you think we need to finance massive space warning projects in order to protect ourselves from immanent extinction?

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