Could we deflect an asteroid headed towards Earth?

CD Menard, News Writer

Everyone has heard about mass extinction events in their science classes, in documentaries, and in poorly translated sci-fi dinosaur movies.  The fantastic content in these mediums have, however, made many people wonder: “How could we prevent something like this from happening to us?”

At this time, NASA has warned of an asteroid on their radar which is currently barreling towards Earth.  This Asteroid, 2017 AP4 (or I lovingly refer to as Fred), is currently flying towards Earth at an average velocity of around 27,000 kilometers per hour (which translates to roughly 17,000 mph). During one of its orbits, scientists speculated that the asteroid went through a gravitational keyhole (which is a tiny region of space where a planet’s gravity alters the course of an asteroid) which has altered its trajectory setting its path hurtling towards earth.  Fortunately, there does not appear to be immediate cause for alarm, as at some time in the future, this asteroid is predicted to burn up in the atmosphere, causing a massive atmospheric explosion (technical term: the big kaboom)

Some food for thought remains, however.  One’s cerebrum begs the question; “What if another asteroid with an impact trajectory towards earth, one of such massive size that it would not be expected to burn up in the atmosphere, one that could cause an extinction event like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs…. what is mankind to do if that asteroid ends up blazing its trail in our direction?  Fortunately, NASA has developed a plan. NASA’s foresight entails new enhancements to the asteroid tracking system as well as a remotely operated space craft purposed in altering the course of the asteroid. This newly developed technology, appropriately named DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test), is set to begin testing soon, and has been expected to drastically alter people’s understanding of interstellar objects, along with their behaviors. 

Although NASA said a devastating asteroid hit on earth in the near future is somewhat improbable, they maintain that it will likely happen at some point.  Clearly, the success of this current plan will be of paramount importance on many levels, including the comfort of knowing that due to NASA’s diligence, the people of earth can continue to sleep well at night and avoid any fears of cataclysmic catastrophes caused by asteroids.   It is, truly, the stuff dreams are made of!