The Sky is Falling (Reprinted from the Metro Spirit, 10-31-13)
As a student of aerospace, I understand that the threat is real. But nonetheless, something just seems pointless in the announcement from the United Nations:
United Nations to Adopt Asteroid Defense Plan
Now, I know that everybody has different experiences, but honestly, do you remember the last time you worried about asteroids raining down on the Earth and wiping out all life as we know it? And do you remember doing this while sober?
Granted it was just earlier this year that an asteroid exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. This meteor entered the atmosphere travelling at over 41,000 miles per hour and exploded with a force over 20 times more powerful than the atomic bomb at Hiroshima. Approximately 1,500 people had to seek medical attention due to indirect effects (e.g., broken glass).
But do we really need an “International Asteroid Warning Group” to help coordinate global emergency services for an event that might occur every 50 years or so?
Then it hit me. The United Nations is just positioning itself for a cameo in the sequel – “Gravity 2: The Asteroid”
It’s 5 years later. The majority of space debris is gone, having been filtered from Low Earth Orbit by the fringes of the atmosphere. Astronaut Dr. Ryan Stone is on a recovery mission to the destroyed shuttle Explorer. Prior to the Hubble repair, Dr. Stone’s previous mission deployed a top-secret, NSA data-sucking communications satellite. The hardware encryption appliance needed to download surveillance data is located on the destroyed shuttle. As the mission’s last surviving member, Dr. Stone must return to space and obtain the encryption appliance. Without it, the United States will be powerless to stop the next wave of Al Quaeda attacks. The fate of the American Way of Life hinges on her success.
While searching the remaining debris of doomed shuttle, a killer asteroid passes within meters of Dr. Stone. The asteroid’s gravity pulls her from the shuttle, and from the emptiness of space, she watches in horror as the asteroid passes into the upper atmosphere. Instead of crashing into the Earth, however, the asteroid skips off the atmosphere and disappears into space. After being rescued and returned to the shuttle (by none other than Astronaut Matt Kowalski, of course), Dr. Ryan learns that the impact with the Earth’s atmosphere merely slowed the asteroid. On its next orbit, the asteroid will enter the atmosphere and strike the Earth’s surface with a force greater than the impact that killed the dinosaurs. It’s up to Dr. Stone to destroy the asteroid and save humanity!
I’m thinking that a $100 million Kickstarter project will get this baby off the ground. I’ll let you know when I get it online. 😉