[여적] Asteroid Defense – Kyunghyang Shinmun

A spacecraft launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for an Earth defense test successfully collided with the asteroid Dimorphus. NASA live video capture

Many modern people do not have time to see the shooting stars in the night sky, but it is said that an average of 17 shooting stars fall to earth every day. If you include a small meteorite that enters the atmosphere and burns up, more celestial bodies will face the Earth at this time. Some are not as romantic as the meteor that burned over Chelyabinsk, Russia in February 2013. At that time, 110 people were hospitalized due to a meteor that smashed windows with a roar. This is the biggest ‘meteorite disaster’ mankind has seen since the meteorite that is said to have wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conducted an experiment on the 27th by colliding an object with a meteorite that could face the Earth. The target was the ‘Dimorphus’ asteroid with a diameter of 160 m, located approximately 11 million km from Earth. In a video released by NASA, a small spacecraft with a camera was approaching the asteroid, and the signal was cut off after sending a picture of the asteroid’s surface just before the impact. NASA said the spacecraft reached its target exactly 10 months after launch. It is said that it will take about four years to finally confirm the success of the experiment through the changes in the orbit of the asteroid and the marks on its surface. The asteroid is unlikely to be directed towards Earth, but has been selected as a target for ‘Planetary Defence’ technology. The principle is the same as the missile defense (MD) technology. “Protecting the Earth is an effort that unites the world as it affects all life on Earth,” said NASA.

For those of you familiar with the same Hollywood movies, you might be thinking, “You mean you don’t have this level of skill?” However, it seems clear that this sci-fi imagination is leading scientific and technological research in a certain direction. It is also necessary to conduct such research. The question is how seriously we should take the possibility of the destruction of the Earth by meteorites. With the development of telescope technology, only more than 10,000 objects of a certain size or larger that are likely to fall to Earth have been identified, and the number is constantly increasing. But there will always be so many such celestial bodies. Most people do not feel the threat of human existence due to meteorites. If the earth were to be destroyed, wouldn’t that be more likely due to human factors such as nuclear weapons or climate crisis?

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