In the course of the last few days, the earth was nearly missed by a school bus-sized asteroid, 2012 BX34. At one point that space invader was predicted by scientists to come within 12,000 miles of the earth, within the area of our geostationary satellites. In fact the actual pass was further from our planet, at about a fifth the distance to the moon.
Last February a small hurling rock from space, about a meter wide, named 2011 CQ1 filled the sky at 3000 miles above. That was a recent record. And last June, there were reports of an office-block sized asteroid coming 23 times closer than the moon.
While some of these potentially damaging space travelers are cyclic and predictable, many go unnoticed until they are looming high in the sky.
The superstitious or merely concerned are aware of Apophis, “The Serpent that Dwells in Darkness”, which has skimmed our vicinity many times, and will again loom on Friday, the thirteenth of April, 2029, and once again on Easter Sunday, in April of 2036. The “Uncreator”, as Apophis is also known, with a diameter of 885 feet, a length of 460 feet, moving at 13,129 mph, has the experts concerned. There is a possibility of impact which could do extreme damage – even wipe out an entire city.
Experts from a wide range of research institutes, universities, and corporate organizations from Russia, Germany, the United States, France, Britain and Spain have joined forces to devise plans to deal with these intergalactic threats. They have prepared papers concerned with global strategies for mitigation of asteroidal impact potential, and related matters. The project called NEOShield, is focused on three techniques for intervention: the kinetic impactor, blast deflection and the gravity tractor. Intervention in most cases is nearly impossible, in view of the high rates of speed at which asteroids move through the heavens.