Universityof Southampton researchers have developed NEOImpactor, a software package thatmodels asteroid impacts and assesses the potential consequences for humanbeings and their economy. The software package was developed by Nick Bailey andDr Graham Swinerd of the University of Southampton's School of EngineeringSciences, and Dr Richard Crowther of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
NEOImpactor is specificallydesigned for measuring the impact and consequences of "small"asteroids - those measuring less than one kilometer in diameter. According toNEOImpactor, the ten countries most at risk from small asteroid strikes areChina, Indonesia, India, Japan, the United States, the Philippines, Italy, theUnited Kingdom, Brazil and Nigeria.
The InternationalSpaceguard survey has been cataloguing near Earth asteroids larger than onekilometer in diameter. Smaller asteroids remain undetected. Some, like asteroid2003 SQ222 come very close to Earth - just 54,700 miles. Astronomersestimate that there are about 500 million undiscovered asteroids the size of2003 SQ222 or larger that exist in the same area of space through which Earthorbits.
The damage that an asteroidcan do increases with size and impact velocity. An asteroid just 200 meters indiameter hitting one of Earth's oceans could cause tsunamis around the world.The largest asteroid strike in recent human memory, at the TunguskaRiver in Russia, felled 80 million trees over an area of 2,150 kilometers.That object's size has been estimated at about 50 meters in diameter.
As human civilizationspreads across the Earth, the possibility of disaster from an asteroid impactincreases. These stories demonstrate the variety of possible responses:
- Proposal To Move An Asteroid
Edward Lu of the B612 Foundation offers a "bold new proposal" to demonstrate altering the orbit of an asteroid.
- Russian Response To Possible Asteroid Impact
The Russian government has been active in studying the problem for the last few years.
- MADMEN Robot Swarm To Handle Incoming Asteroids?
Modular Asteroid Deflection Mission Ejector Node robots would bolster planetary defenses.
However, wemight be able to find a use for asteroids; see UndergradProposes Asteroids As Radiation Shields for details.
Read more at Centauri Dreams.
(This Science Fiction inthe News story used with permission from Technovelgy.com - where science meetsfiction.)