Elon Musk warns we have ‘no defence’ against killer asteroids

Except there’s one problem, Elon Musk has pointed out – we don’t actually have any defence system. Replying to a Tweet about the asteroid Apophis …

Illustration of an asteroid. Even in the main belt the asteroid density is very low. On average, distances of millions of miles separate even the closest members. Most of them, as this artist's impression shows, are lone wanderers.Illustration of an asteroid. Even in the main belt the asteroid density is very low. On average, distances of millions of miles separate even the closest members. Most of them, as this artist's impression shows, are lone wanderers.

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Elon Musk warned that we currently have no defence against asteroids (Getty)

It’s a favourite plot device in Hollywood movies – a killer asteroid hurtles towards our planet, and humanity scrambles to defend itself.

Except there’s one problem, Elon Musk has pointed out – we don’t actually have any defence system.

Replying to a Tweet about the asteroid Apophis (which is due to narrowly pass Earth in 2029), the Tesla boss said there is, currently, no defence infrastructure to protect Earth.

Musk said: ‘Wouldn’t worry about this particular one, but a big rock will hit Earth eventually & we currently have no defence.’

Great name! Wouldn’t worry about this particular one, but a big rock will hit Earth eventually & we currently have no defense. https://t.co/XhY8uoNNax

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 18, 2019

But don’t fret too much: NASA is looking into what to do.

The space agency has already taken steps towards a real solution if an asteroid is hurtling towards Earth, a mission to knock potential doomsday asteroids onto less-threatening flight paths.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) has just entered the final design and assembly phase and will launch into space in either 2020 and 2021.

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk listens during a conversation with legendary game designer Todd Howard (not pictured) at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Mike BlakeSpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk listens during a conversation with legendary game designer Todd Howard (not pictured) at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

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SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk (Getty)

The idea is that a fridge-sized DART spacecraft will hit the asteroid faster than a bullet – and change its orbit.

NASA’s Andrew Rivkin said last year: ‘With DART, we want to understand the nature of asteroids by seeing how a representative body reacts when impacted, with an eye toward applying that knowledge if we are faced with the need to deflect an incoming object.’

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In space, DART will head towards a ‘binary asteroid’ known as Didymos, aiming to intercept it in October 2022.

The spacecraft will ram the moonlet Didymos B, which orbits around larger asteroid Didymos A.

It will hit the smaller rock at 3.7 miles per second, and NASA scientists will monitor to see what effect it has on the 530ft rock’s flight path.

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Elon Musk: “A Big Rock Will Hit Earth Eventually”

After suggesting that we should nuke Mars to terraform it, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter yesterday to warn us all that “a big rock will hit Earth …

After suggesting that we should nuke Mars to terraform it, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter yesterday to warn us all that “a big rock will hit Earth eventually and we currently have no defense.”

The ominous warning came in reply to podcast personality Joe Rogan, who shared an article by The Daily Express, a British tabloid newspaper, about asteroid Apophis, warning of an imminent “asteroid shock” — a sensationalist spin of a harmless cosmic event.

Apophis is a 370-meter in diameter near-Earth asteroid, first spotted in 2004, that could hit the Earth in 2029 — but only with a probability of well under three percent. It is nonetheless categorized as a “Potentially Hazardous Asteroid” by NASA and considered an unlikely but worrisome space hazard.

NASA had discussed the asteroid at this year’s 2019 Planetary Defense Conference back in April, noting that Apophis will “cruise harmlessly by Earth, about 19,000 miles (31,000 kilometers) above the surface,” according to a blog post by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

In fact, it’ll pass so close, that its gravity could affect Earth.

“It is possible that there will be some surface changes, like small avalanches,” Davide Farnocchia, an astronomer at JPL’s Center for Near Earth Objects Studies, said in the blog post.

While the Express article mentioned that “NASA is preparing for ‘colossal God of Chaos’ rock” — a headline that could easily be read as NASA preparing for the worst “Armageddon”-style by unsuspecting tabloid readers, the reality is substantially different. Scientists at JPL had discussed sending a small spacecraft to meet Apophis as it sails by.

“The Apophis close approach in 2029 will be an incredible opportunity for science,” said Marina Brozovi, a JPL radar scientist, in a statement in April. “We’ll observe the asteroid with both optical and radar telescopes. With radar observations, we might be able to see surface details that are only a few meters in size.”

That doesn’t mean Musk is wrong, though. His comments come, for instance, after a “city killer” asteroid of immense proportions whizzed past Earth almost completely undetected by astronomers last month.

Still, we’re not quite as defenseless as Musk suggested. One of NASA’s upcoming missions, for example, is planning to smash a probe into a distant asteroid at 13,500 mph to deflect it away from Earth.

The team behind the mission dubbed “Double Asteroid Redirection Test” — the first ever mission to come out of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Officerevealed parts of its new spacecraft in July, a column of honeycomb structured aluminum that will later be outfitted with massive solar arrays.

The plan is to launch the spacecraft aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket — ironic, considering Musk’s stance on the subject — from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in 2021.

Editor’s note 8/19: An earlier version of this story incorrectly claimed that the asteroid Apophis could come closer to Earth than the International Space Station. It has been updated.

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Elon Musk Brushes Off Collision Fears Over ‘God of Chaos’ Asteroid Set to Zip Past Earth in 2029

Elon Musk, Tesla, SpaceX and The Boring Company CEO, took to Twitter to reassure his pal, podcast host Joe Rogan, who had retweeted an article …

NASA has already begun preparations for the impending arrival of asteroid 99942 Apophis, also known as the “God of Chaos”, which will pass within 31,000 kilometres of Earth’s surface on 13 April 2029.

The asteroid, considered to be potentially hazardous, measures about 340 metres across, and is estimated to be one of the biggest asteroids to pass so close to our planet’s surface, with a chance of slamming Earth.

And if it does collide with our planet, the potential damage will be devastating for humanity, given its eye-popping velocity of 40,233 km/h.

While NASA scientists have been preparing to study the giant rock as it swings past Earth, one particular space connoisseur has been unfazed by the issue.

Elon Musk, Tesla, SpaceX and The Boring Company CEO, took to Twitter to reassure his pal, podcast host Joe Rogan, who had retweeted an article about the “God of Chaos” that 99942 Apophis was not a subject of concern – for now.

Great name! Wouldn’t worry about this particular one, but a big rock will hit Earth eventually & we currently have no defense. https://t.co/XhY8uoNNax

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 18 августа 2019 г.

In fact, NASA and Musk’s SpaceX are working together on the space agency’s first spacecraft impact asteroid redirect mission, which will be a key test before the actual need to protect the planet from a giant rock approaching the planet.

Under the so-called Double Asteroid Redirection Test, which is scheduled for June 2021, one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets will launch in the direction of asteroid 65803 Didymos (or “Didymain”) and its tiny satellite Didymoon to see if it could redirect the rock from its intended path. To that end, the space agency has paid $69 million to Musk’s venture.

Aside from this, NASA announced earlier this year that it had teamed up with international partners to perform a “tabletop exercise” on how to handle a hypothetical asteroid on a collision course with Earth.

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Space X Bags Astrophysics Mission Contract From NASA

SpaceX received a contract from NASA on July 8, for launching a tiny astrophysics mission. The launch will be conducted by a Falcon 9 rocket, which …

SpaceX received a contract from NASA on July 8, for launching a tiny astrophysics mission. The launch will be conducted by a Falcon 9 rocket, which was offered to the company at a much lower price tag, than the other smaller rockets.

NASA had announced that it has opted for SpaceX for launching the Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission, which is set to be launched on a Falcon 9 spacecraft in April 2021 from the Launch complex 39A of Kennedy Space Center. NASA stated that the launch of the spacecraft would be $50.3 billion, though this would include the launch as well as other associated costs related to the mission.

This cost is much lesser than the cost of the launch of the DART or the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, which was awarded to SpaceX, and is supposed to take place in the month of June 2021. The launch is set to be conducted from the Vandenberg Airforce Base of California. The estimated cost of the DART launch is set at $69 million.

One of the reasons behind the lesser cost is the re-use of a first-stage booster, which was previously flown. Tracy Young, a NASA spokesperson said on July 8, that Falcon 9 will launch Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) with the help of a reused first stage booster.

There have been no words from NASA suggesting whether the IXPE would be sharing the launch with one or more than one customer. It had previously considered the DART launch as an exclusive mission. However, subsequently, it made amends and stated that additional payloads could be added as secondary mission payloads if there is room for some extra package to be delivered.

NASA had selected the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer back in 2017 and had included it as its Small Explorer Program for carrying out astrophysics missions.

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Bachelor’s degree in Astrophysics has helped develop an interest in knowing more about the space and Universe concepts. The keenness in gathering more information about the outside world has helped Carl enhance his skill of writing. He immediately chose the field of content writing as a career so as to provide the public with all the astronomical knowledge gained during the years of experience. The content writing has now become an integral part of Carl’s life and thus, he has been able to dedicate 4 Years of his life to Industry News Reports portal as a Senior Content Writer.

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NASA and SpaceX team up to stop an ASTEROID: Daring mission will prevent future cataclysm

NASA and SpaceX have joined efforts in a bid to derail a giant asteroid from its orbit, testing in the process NASA’s ability to save the Earth from …

NASA said in a statement: “NASA has selected SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, the first-ever mission to demonstrate the capability to deflect an asteroid by colliding a spacecraft with it at high speed – a technique known as a kinetic impactor.”

The target of NASA’s mission is the distant binary system of Didymos.

Didymos is composed of a larger asteroid, Didymos A, orbited by a smaller asteroid moon, Didymos B.

The larger of the two space rocks measures an impressive 2,624ft (800m) in diameter.

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