There’s a slight chance that an asteroid about the size of the Empire State Building will crash in the Earth in 2135, possibly sending humans the way of the dinosaur. While the odds are at a slim one in 2,700 they’re still greater than zero. As such, scientists from NASA and Energy Department Weapon Labs have carefully researched a variety of defense options. The bad news is that the asteroid, which is called Bennu, will likely be impossible to stop, but on an up note there’s a chance it can be deflected. Doing so will require blasting it with an arsenal of 8.8-tons spacecraft possibly outfitted with nuclear devices. That still hypothetical machine is called the 'HAMMER,' which stands for Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response. Given the investment required to develop comparable space equipment and as HAMMER mission cost estimates haven’t even been released, it’s hard to determine if the plans will ever come to fruition, however, they are set for presentation at a conference in Japan in the coming months. For the time being, Bennu is simply a space rock of scientific interest. NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is on its way there now, and when it arrives next year, it will collect samples that will be returned to Earth for analysis.
1. According to the article, what could happen in 2135?
2. What is HAMMER?
3. Where is OSIRIS-REx spacecraft now and what is its mission?
4. In the movie titled "Armageddon," the main character sacrifices his own life to blow up an asteroid headed toward the Earth. Would you be willing to sacrifice yourself to save the world?
"When it comes to getting prepared for an accident, there's no such thing as being-too-early."
Do you agree?
Why do you think so?