Investigation by a space probe has led to findings which suggest that over 72 novel asteroids and comets are extant in the vicinity of our home planet.
Asteroid Day will be held on June 30th. The goal is to educate the public on the hazards of asteroids that lie close to the earth. Normally when people think about the earth, they imagine this big blue marble in the vastness of space.
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Maybe the few satellites and probes that surround it may come to mind as well. Yet there are a number of space rocks that could plunge into the planet any moment. They are a source of great danger.
NASA keeps track of these NEOs (Near Earth Objects). A spacecraft known as the NEOWISE is currently trying to monitor these space fragments since they threaten the earth and its inhabitants.
72 novel NEOs have been discovered so far. Eight of these are a source of danger indeed. They hold potential as objects that could strike the earth sometime in the future.
NEOWISE is trying to track these NEOs beforehand so that steps could be taken to offset their possible collision course with the earth.
Ground telescopes are one class of instruments that could gauge these NEOs too. Over 439 NEOs have already been detected by these telescopes.
"NEOWISE discovers large, dark, near-Earth objects, complementing our network of ground-based telescopes operating at visible-light wavelengths. On average, these objects are many hundreds of meters across," Amy Mainzer, NEOWISE principal investigator, told CNN.
NEOWISE tends to detect huge, invisible NEOs. This work by the special probe tends to complete the job of the ground-based telescopes. When the results of both the probe and the telescopes are added up, a total of 14,246 NEOs alone were discovered in the past seven days or so.
So now we know that the earth and earthlings are not alone in the universe. However, that is not a cause for alarmism. No huge objects are about to hit our earth anytime soon. For now we are safe and sound.
One thing that we have to take care of is that smaller space rocks do manage to enter our atmosphere time after time. Chelyabinsk is a prime example of such a phenomenon.
It just came without any warning on February 15th, 2013. Hundreds of people were harmed and many windows and buildings were damaged in the surrounding area in Russia.
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The ideas that have been proposed to deal with incoming asteroids include one of nuking them to pieces. It might indeed be our best bet and those weapons arsenals could be better put to use in asteroid avoidance instead of species extermination.