Asteroid Day seeks to find a way to protect our planet

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Mariella Moon
June 23rd, 2015
In this article: asteroid, nasa, space
Asteroid Day seeks to find a way to protect our planet

NASA has recently teamed up with the National Nuclear Security Administration to look into the possibility of using nukes to save the Earth from serious asteroid threats. Both organizations have been studying the option for quite some time -- they ran computer simulations in the past, and NASA has even designed a nuke-equipped interceptor years ago -- but now they're exploring the possibility together. They're particularly concerned about huge "dinosaur killers" measuring 164 to 492 feet in diameter and will most likely deploy weapons only if humanity's threatened by rocks that big. To put that in perspective, when a 60-feet, 7,000 ton asteroid crashed in Russia in 2013, it burned and blinded people despite being relatively small. The agencies' deal was closed just in time for the first Asteroid Day on June 30th.

The event was founded in December and supported by Richard Dawkins, Bill Nye, Chris Hadfield and Brian May (an astrophysicist whom you might know better as Queen's guitarist), among many other scientists. It aims to raise awareness about asteroids and to bring brilliant minds together, in order to conjure up ideas on how we can protect our planet in case an asteroid heads our way. After all, sending deep-sea oil drillers to space will likely only work in a Hollywood movie. Some scientists want to send an asteroid-monitoring observatory to space called Sentinel, others are developing different methods, such as using sunlight to obliterate parts of a particularly huge rock.

NASA's and NNSA's plan to send nukes to deflect asteroids is another possibility, but we're sure some scientists like Purdue University's H. Jay Melosh would "like to see it as a last-ditch option." Several locations in the US, Canada, the UK and other places around the world are holding events for Asteroid Day. Make sure to check the official website if you want to participate in any of them.

[Image credit: Elenarts/Getty]

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