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Software Models Consequences Of Asteroid Strikes

Software Models Consequences Of Asteroid Strikes
ANIMATION: Three images of 2003 SQ222 used to make the discovery were put together to show the object streaking across the sky in relation to background stars.

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:

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 - where science meetsfiction.)

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Bill Christensen

Bill Christensen is the founder and editor of Technovelgy, a website dedicated to cataloguing  the inventions, technology and ideas of science fiction writers. Bill is a dedicated reader of science fiction with a passion about science and the history of ideas. For 10 years, he worked as writer creating technical documentation for large companies such as Ford, Unisys and Northern Telecom and currently works to found and maintain large websites. You can see Bill's latest project on Twitter.