Large Asteroids Not A Threat, Small Ones Are

While the idea of a large planet killing asteroid makes for a great film, the truth of the matter is, there’s an ever slimming chance that Earth will be hit by one as astronomers chart more of the skies and find them to be exceedingly rare.  On the other hand, several objects capable of wiping out entire cities do seem to exist and may pose a serious threat to the planet.

It doesn’t seem the world will end any time soon in our lifetimes as planet killing asteroids no longer seem to be a real possibility.  In 2004 the asteroid Apophis was considered the most likely object to impact Earth, and the asteroid was of sufficient size and speed that it could have disrupted the Earth in ways resulting in global destruction or at the very least massive Earth changing catastrophes in 2029 or 2036.

While some are still terrified of the potential approach of the Apophis asteroid, most scientists at NASA have declared the chances of the Apophis asteroid hitting Earth so small that it is likely not going to be a threat we will ever see in our lifetimes.

But there are many other asteroids, many capable of creating explosions powerful enough to level entire cities or hit the ocean and cause massive tsunamis.  The incredible power of even a moderately sized asteroid is enough to disrupt the entire economic system and potentially put millions of lives in danger.  Currently less than $5 million is dedicated to the search for dangerous incoming asteroids.  

The topic is split largely into two categories of unhappy people.  The first group suggests that five million dollars annually is a waste of money.  They say an asteroid hasn’t hit the Earth since 1901 during the Tunguska event and even then the chances of it impacting an inhabited area of the globe is remote at best.  These people obviously want no research into a potential defense system against asteroids.  The other group, those who fear a massive asteroid collision with Earth suggest that $5 million out of a massive defense budget which totals over $1.5 trillion annually.  This group believes that a planet that spends most of its money on defense should have a better strategy at defending itself against the potential threat of an incoming asteroid.

If one were to take one third of the amount spent on military housing in the United States’ Air Force, this would be more than sufficient for a planetary defense system scanning 90 percent of the skies as opposed to the current 10 percent.

So the good news means the Earth will not be destroyed entirely by a planet killing asteroid.  At least the chance is infinitesimally small according to scientists.  On the other hand, it’s far more possible we will be hit by a smaller asteroid capable of causing quite a bit of damage but leaving most of the human race intact.  Will we be sufficiently prepared in the event of an impact?