Apophis is coming ?/! December 2, 2006Posted by theoxymoron in Interesting Reads.
According to an article from David Noland in Popular Mechanics scientists calculated that if Apophis passes at a distance of exactly 18’893 miles it will go through a “gravitational keyhole”. If so Earth’s gravity will perturb the asteroid in the wrong way, causing a potential catastrophic impact precisely seven years later on April 13, 2036. The chances are 45’000:1 that it will go through that keyhole.
So what should we do about things with low-probability but extreme high-consequence risks? Should we say, ” Why bother, it’s not really going to happen” or are the consequences that serious that even a tiny risk is unacceptable ?
A fact is, that the consequences would be very serious. If Apophis hits water then it creates a 5-mile-wide, 9000 ft deep crater in the water. The collapse of that water crater would trigger tsunamis that would hit California with an hour-long fusillade of 50 ft. waves.
There are currently 5 ways to change the track of the asteroid.
- Bump it: a 1-ton kinetic energy impact
- Thrust it: a ion-drive rocket engine builds thrust over a few weeks on the asteroid
- Tug it:Gravity tractor
- Blast it: thermonuclear bomb placed inside Apophis
- Nuke it: nuclear explosion just above the surface
Learned also about the never heard “Yarkovsky Effect” that could also change the course of an asteroid just because of the radiation of the hotter surface which is exposed more to the sun.