This is an odd news tidbit.Â I watched the old Bruce Willis gung ho spce adventure movie back in the day, guilty pleasure, who hasn’t. But here is Russia (or more properly, some people inÂ Russia) saying, this is important, we need to do this with Apophis, a large space rock whoseÂ orbital trajectoryÂ brings it into Earth proximity every thirty years or so.
Scientists inÂ the USA say, we are analyzing the trajectory and there is less than one chance in half a million of a hit. Pretty good odds, though it should be noted that the consequences of such a hit would be severe, even if the strike would occur in the ocean (tidal waves). Apophis is a big rock. It is over 800 feet in diameter.
In a technical science mode, this is a topic worth discussing. Large meteor impacts on the Earth’s surfaceÂ do not happen very often,Â it canÂ be millions of years between occurences. But the occurences can be game changers- and with 7 billion humans on this planet, the mortality of such an event would likely be horrific.Â So yes, ultimately it would be wise to develop plans to divert large space rocks that seem to wander too close.
But it should be noted that it is difficult toÂ carry out such a task, and if you do it the wrong way, you could shatter the space rock with the result that the object changes from a Bullet to a spreading shotgun blast, some of which would be more likely to actually hit us. AndÂ I am not real trusting of the technical competence of the Russians to carry out such a job, as they are not the leaders in space technologyÂ right now. Â I do not want to seem anti-Russian, because I dislike Putin rather than the Russian people. But to some extent this announcement is more of an attention getter than a real effort to save the human race. Yes we need to be realistically concerned about space rocks, because they are a significant long term threat. But if we are going to actually deal with them in a constructive way, we will need realistic plans that follow the laws of physics, and we will probably have to spend billions of dollars on the solution, not just millions.