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Archive for the ‘asteroid/comet impacts’ category

Jan 22, 2019

Asteroid Impacts Increased Around Time of Largest Extinction Event

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

Dinosaurs never stood a chance once asteroid impacts more than doubled some 290 million years ago.

By studying the Moon, an international team of scientists revealed that the number of asteroids crashing into Earth and its satellite increased by two to three times toward the end of the Paleozoic era.

Contrary to popular belief, most of the planet’s more primitive asteroid-produced craters were not erased by erosion and other geologic processes.

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Jan 22, 2019

NASA will attempt to knock an asteroid out of orbit for the first time in 2022

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

  • If an asteroid were to head towards Earth in the foreseeable future, we would be quite defenceless.
  • To change that, NASA has approved a mission to throw a “small” asteroid off course in October 2022.
  • The aim of the project is to establish whether we can protect our planet from a future asteroid impact.

If an asteroid were to head towards Earth, we would be quite defenceless as we have not successfully developed a method that could reduce the impact of — or entirely avert — a devastating collision.

However, that may be about to change. NASA has approved a project called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the aim of which is to throw a “small” asteroid off course in October 2022.

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Dec 2, 2018

Astronaut says a neglected telescope is NASA’s best chance of defending Earth from ‘city killer’ asteroids — ‘for God’s sake, fund it’

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks, government, military

Killer asteroids might be a bigger threat than you think.


  • Small asteroids can strike Earth with the force of many nuclear weapons and destroy entire cities.
  • A small fraction of such asteroids is estimated to have been found, but NASA is supposed to find 90% of them by 2020.
  • Retired astronaut Rusty Schweickart says a relatively inexpensive space telescope, called the Near-Earth Object Camera, could find these space rocks — and quickly.
  • NASA has denied full funding to NEOCam multiple times because the agency’s mission selection process is weighted against the telescope.
  • NEOCam’s supporters say the telescope needs just $40 million more in NASA’s budget to launch into space.
  • It’s up to President Trump and Congress to raise NASA’s budget enough to support the mission.

A former NASA astronaut says the agency he used to work for has a duty to protect civilians from killer asteroids, but that it isn’t meeting that obligation.

The threat of asteroid strikes might seem as abstract as outer space itself. But the risk, while infrequent, is real — and potentially more deadly than the threat posed by some of the most powerful nuclear weapons ever detonated.

Continue reading “Astronaut says a neglected telescope is NASA’s best chance of defending Earth from ‘city killer’ asteroids — ‘for God’s sake, fund it’” »

Sep 24, 2018

Asteroids and comets as space weapons

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biotech/medical, existential risks, robotics/AI

A dual use research of concern (DURC) refers to research in the life sciences that, while intended for public benefit, could also be repurposed to cause public harm. One prominent example is that of disease and contagion research (can improve disease control, but can also be used to spread disease more effectively, either accidentally or maliciously). I will argue here that DURC can and should be applicable to any technology that has a potential dual use such as this.


Approximately 66 million years ago, a 10 km sized body struck Earth, and was likely one of the main contributors to the extinction of many species at the time. Bodies the size of 5 km or larger impact Earth on average every 20 million years (one might say we are overdue for one, but then one wouldn’t understand statistics). Asteroids 1 km or larger impact Earth every 500,000 years on average. Smaller bodies which can still do considerable local damage occur much more frequently (10 m wide bodies impact Earth on average every 10 years). It seems reasonable to say that only the first category (~5 km) pose an existential threat, however many others pose major catastrophic threats*.

Given the likelihood of an asteroid impact (I use the word asteroid instead of asteroid and/or comet from here for sake of brevity), some argue that further improving detection and deflection technology are critical. Matheny (2007) estimates that, even if asteroid extinction events are improbable, due to the loss of future human generations if one were to occur, asteroid detection/deflection research and development could save a human life-year for $2.50 (US). Asteroid impact mitigation is not thought to be the most pressing existential threat (e.g. artificial intelligence or global pandemics), and yet it already seems to have better return on investment than the best now-centric human charities (though not non-human charities – I am largely ignoring non-humans here for simplicity and sake of argument).

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Aug 24, 2018

‘Potentially hazardous,’ 500-foot asteroid set to zoom past Earth at 20,000 mph

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

NASA — National Aeronautics and Space Administration has issued an alert that a “potentially hazardous asteroid” is on a “close approach” towards Earth.


NASA has issued an alert that a “potentially hazardous asteroid” is on a “close approach” toward Earth. However, it’s nothing to be alarmed at, as the asteroid is expected to zoom past the planet approximately 3 million miles away.

The enormous space rock, known as asteroid 2016 NF23 and estimated to be between 230 and 525 feet in diameter, will zip past Earth on Aug. 29 at a velocity of 9.04 kilometers per second, or approximately 20,000 miles per hour, the government space agency said on its Earth Close Approaches page.

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Aug 22, 2018

Massive asteroid bigger than the Great Pyramid of Giza will make a close approach to Earth NEXT WEEK

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱


A massive asteroid estimated to be double the size of a Boeing 747 is headed toward a close approach with Earth next week.

Continue reading “Massive asteroid bigger than the Great Pyramid of Giza will make a close approach to Earth NEXT WEEK” »

Aug 8, 2018

Uncertain human consequences in asteroid risk analysis and the global catastrophe threshold

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biotech/medical, existential risks, policy

By pure coincidence, the article by Seth Baum was published just 5 days after a small asteroid exploded over early warning Tule station in Greenland.


This paper studies the risk of collision between asteroids and Earth. It focuses on uncertainty in the human consequences of asteroid collisions, with emphasis on the possibility of global catastrophe to human civilization. A detailed survey of the asteroid risk literature shows that while human consequences are recognized as a major point of uncertainty, the studies focus mainly on physical and environmental dimensions of the risk. Some potential human consequences are omitted entirely, such as the possibility of asteroid explosions inadvertently causing nuclear war. Other human consequences are modeled with varying degrees of detail. Direct medical effects are relatively well-characterized, while human consequences of global environmental effects are more uncertain. The latter are evaluated mainly in terms of a global catastrophe threshold, but such a threshold is deeply uncertain and may not even exist. To handle threshold uncertainty in asteroid policy, this paper adapts the concept of policy boundaries from literature on anthropogenic global environmental change (i.e., planetary boundaries). The paper proposes policy boundaries of 100 m asteroid diameter for global environmental effects and 1 m for inadvertent nuclear war. Other policy implications include a more aggressive asteroid risk mitigation policy and measures to avoid inadvertent nuclear war. The paper argues that for rare events like large asteroid collisions, the absence of robust data means that a wide range of possible human consequences should be considered. This implies humility for risk analysis and erring on the side of caution in policy.

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Jul 2, 2018

A huge meteorite just splashed into the ocean, and scientists want to find it

Posted by in category: asteroid/comet impacts

A two-ton rock from the depths of space just plunged into the Pacific Ocean, and researchers want to find it. Fortunately, an oceanic research vessel is nearby, and it’s ready to deploy its high-tech to aid in the search. The Nautilus contains sophisticated sensors and two remote-controlled submarines that can scour the seafloor for fragments.

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Jun 29, 2018

Kick Asteroid

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

Our new Kickstarter project lets you help save the Earth from an asteroid impact! Let’s go #KickAsteroid! https://planet.ly/kickasteroid

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May 14, 2018

What If an Asteroid Hit the Earth?

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

Would we suffer the same fate as the dinosaurs?

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