There are a whole lot of bad ways to wake up from a nap. Getting hit with a space rock is certainly one of these.
One day in 1954, Ann Hodges was dozing on her Living room sofa. At 12:45 pm, a meteorite ripped through her living room ceiling and piled her up using a direct hit into the gut. The episode left her with slight injuries and the honor of being the very first person in recorded history to ever be hit directly by a meteorite, but that’s not for a lack of opportunities.
Asteroids can and do strike Earth. Between 1988 and 2017, NASA listed over 700 fireballs made by foreign objects entering our atmosphere. While the likelihood of a direct hit are extremely low, the absolute number of incidents is enough to make us wonder: could another strike happen? If so, how dangerous is it? After all, dinosaur extinction was likely caused by a major asteroid colliding with Earth near present-day Chicxulub, Mexico.
Hoping to avoid a similar fate for humankind, NASA Scientists are currently developing techniques to detect and prepare to get a substantial asteroid collision.
As a part of the attempts, they have developed three different plans for how humans might deflect an asteroid and steer it away from affecting Earth.
The first plan involves using sheer force to push the asteroid in a new way, while some call for manipulating gravitational attraction or creating high-powered lasers to send the rock in a new direction.
Irrespective of the deflection procedure, the feasibility of a strategy depends upon the size of the asteroid and just how fast it is approaching. For this reason, NASA is also devoting resources to searching for asteroids and mapping their avenues of orbit.