So you know how we all kind of thought that our odds of getting destroyed by an asteroid were remarkably low? Yeah, that was wrong. According to new research, the odds of a large-scale asteroid impact are actually three to ten times higher than we thought. And the only thing stopping total and utter destruction? Sheer, dumb luck.
The unsettling revelation, which will be presented in full by three former NASA astronauts this coming Tuesday, is the result of a new visualisation of data from a nuclear weapons warning network. The B612 Foundation found that 26 atomic-bomb-size explosions have happened around the world in (thankfully) remote locations since 2001. Ed Lu, the Foundation’s CEO, explains:
It shows that asteroid impacts are NOT rare — but actually 3-10 times more common than we previously thought. The fact that none of these asteroid impacts shown in the video was detected in advance is proof that the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck.
We’re not totally helpless, though. Funded by the B612 Foundation and Ball Aerospace, the Sentinel Infrared Space Telescope will head into a Venus-esque orbit around the sun when it launches in 2017. From orbit, the Sentinel should have a better vantage point for spotting rogue, humanity-destroying asteroids than we’ve ever had before.
We’ll get a better picture of what this all means come Tuesday, when the astronauts present their findings at the Museum of Flight in Seattle at 9pm EDT. So just to be safe, maybe hold off on rewatching Armageddon for now. [Phys.org]