The U.S. federal government is gathering the world's top scientists together in September for a strategy conference to plan defenses against an attack that could wipe out an American city or disrupt the whole country's infrastructure?and it has nothing to do with Islamic terrorists.
The scientists will try to figure out how to combat an asteroid attack, like the one that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago and flattened a Siberian forest in 1908.
NASA has announced the "Workshop on Scientific Requirements for Mitigation of Hazardous Comets and Asteroids." which will be held in Washington, D.C. in September. In March, NASA activated "Sentry," which is a new system that tracks near-Earth objects (NEOs) and tries to determine if they?re a threat to Earth.
NEOs are small objects like asteroids and comets that orbit in the solar system relatively close to Earth and could one day collide with us. "We've had a couple of close shaves during the past few months," says Brian G. Marsden, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts.
That?s an understatement: Asteroid 2002 EM7, which was discovered March 12, arrived from the direction of the sun. Due to the sun?s glare, it couldn?t be seen until it would have been too late, if it had been aiming for the Earth. Astronomers didn't detect it until four days after it came within 288,000 miles of us, which is a close encounter.
The asteroid was about 200 feet in diameter, which is big enough flatten a city with the energy of a five-megaton nuclear bomb. "I think Mother Nature has given us yet another wake-up call," says Donald K. Yeomans of NASA. "Objects the size of 2002 EM7 pass as close as this one did every two weeks or so. We just haven't found them all yet."
What?s out there and what?s aiming for us? Read ?Dark Matter, Missing Planets & New Comets? by Tom Van Flandern,click here.
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