European Space Agency Killer Asteroid Deflection Program

(ORDO NEWS) — What is the probability that our Earth will collide with a mega-asteroid, which will lead to an irreparable disaster? Fortunately, the probability is extremely small.

Asteroids with a diameter of about 1000 kilometers simply do not exist in our solar system , with the exception of the dwarf planet Ceres. Yes, and it is in a stable orbit, which means that the probability of a collision with an object from the asteroid belt is almost zero. Of course, there are a huge number of much smaller asteroids flying around, and their fall to Earth can really cause serious problems, albeit relatively local ones.

However, we have thousands of astrophysicists, amateur astronomers and modern computers helping us map the sky and look for potential threats. When there is data about some hypothetical threat from the near-Earth orbit, the information is immediately transmitted to the coordination center of the European Space Agency (ESA), whose specialists evaluate and begin tracking.

The information is then sent to the Internet, adding to the public list of asteroids and their orbits. Currently, there are more than 1,300 asteroids on the “threat list” with which there is a “non-zero” probability of a collision, so they all need regular monitoring.

It is worth noting that the smallest asteroids show the greatest risk of collision with the Earth. Perhaps this is still good news.

Planetary protection from asteroids

In addition to the Hazardous Objects Coordination Center, ESA also has a Planetary Defense office, which, you guessed it, deals with the security and protection of the Earth when it comes to asteroid threats. The Planetary Defense website says they have five main goals:

  • Study and search for new objects in near-Earth orbit;
  • Assess the probability of a collision with the Earth;
  • Assess the consequences of such impact;
  • Inform the relevant parties. For example, local authorities and rescue services;
  • Develop methods for deflecting asteroids to prevent collisions.

European Space Agency Killer Asteroid Deflection Program 2

The Planetary Protection Authority is working closely with the coordination center and other space agencies to jointly develop asteroid deflection tools. As a rule, these are not nuclear missiles, although the option of using them as a last resort is still considered.

A more preferred approach is the gravity tractor, which is essentially a heavy satellite that orbits the asteroid and slowly changes its orbit over months or even years. This, of course, implies that scientists will know in advance about the approach of a dangerous asteroid.

Responsible Observation of the Sky

In general, there is nothing to worry about. We have a fairly accurate map of all asteroids that could pose a threat, and we are actively working to develop effective tools to deal with them if they decide to fly into Earth.

One potential problem, however, is the SpaceX Starlink project , which is a global satellite system in Earth orbit. This grouping is already so large that it begins to interfere with the view of the sky, which, as mentioned above, is necessary to track potential threats.

The full implications of the Starlink project have yet to be assessed, but some astronomers are concerned. We hope that a solution will be found.

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