Asteroid Apophis is a name we are relatively unfamiliar with today, but in 20 years it will be a household name, and it will be synonymous with doomsday. At least that’s what scientists are saying as they plot its trajectory and speed and find that in the year 2036, it will impact with Earth having devastating results. Now Russia says they’re building a program designed to destroy Apophis and save the world.
Voice of Russia Radio in an interview with Anatoly Perminov said to Voice of Russia Radio, “We will soon hold a closed meeting of our collegium, the science-technical council at what can be done.” They went on to say that they found it a better idea to spend a few million dollars now and destroy the object than contend with the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Given the alleged fragile state of the planet, this seems prudent.
It’s heartening to see how the world turns, especially with Russia in mind. The former USSR once built a biochemical doomsday device that would almost definitely end all but microbial life on the planet in the event of nuclear war, yet now that the USSR has been dismantled, a new Russia has got their sights set on a new target, one that will save hundreds of thousands of lives. One can only hope this project will be done in open forum with the scientific and financial cooperation of all nations. It would be a great opportunity missed if others didn’t also jump on board this project in an effort toward universal diplomacy.
And they certainly have a powerful opponent more than capable of destroying a large city in a single blow. The Apophis measuring an estimated 350 meters from end to end is expected to create a new desert on Earth the size of France when it hits. The deep impact would blow debris hundreds of miles, kick up tidal waves, and no doubt would change life on the planet, possibly forever. Some scientists have speculated that a disaster of that magnitude could completely change the power scale on Earth, as resources from a large swath of land are demolished. As of yet it’s unknown where the asteroid is estimated to hit or even if it’s estimated to hit Earth at all yet. But NASA scientists have estimated 2036 as “the big one” where the likelihood of Apophis hitting Earth is significant enough to take notice. As the years between us and 2036 decrease, more accurate estimates will be possible. In the mean-time, however, all we can do is hope to move the trajectory just enough that it’s no longer a threat.
“There will be no nuclear explosions,” Perminov said to quell nervous listeners. The plan isn’t simply to send a nuclear warhead up to blow up the asteroid, but rather send up an apparatus to gradually move it out of place. A nuclear explosion would be irresponsible for several reasons, not the least of which is what to do if the rocket joins the thousands of other rockets that have met an untimely demise before exiting the atmosphere. Such an event would hold the potential to be, most analysts say, almost as bad as the asteroid hitting.