Submitted by Steven Kaszab
This past September 26th the Dart impacted a small asteroid known as Dimorphos, 285 hours later the Hubble Space Telescope caught the image, noticing material debris NASA announced they wanted result of this experiment, that the Spacecraft known as Dart was able to alter the asteroid’s orbit.
Why is this event important? It is the first time humanity purposely changed the motion of a celestial object. What is the fuss? Well do you remember Dinosaurs and how they became extinct? A massive asteroid struck the earth long ago, and the disturbance created a massive climatic/environmental disaster, filling the earth’s atmosphere with debris for years. Nothing could grow in such an atmosphere, so these dinosaurs died in time. Such an event can happen again. That is one of the reasons NASA and many other global agencies study the stars daily, studying how celestial objects motion works, and looking for objects of interest.
The Dart struck the asteroid hoping to nudge it off-orbit. NASA is studying how they can protect earth from future collisions with asteroids. But knowing there are dangerous threats in advance is the essential element studied by NASA. Dimorphos has been known and studied for decades, but what about objects coming into our galaxy for the first time? Scientists has journaled known asteroids for many years, knowing what part of the sky they will appear, how long they will show themselves to us, and what path they will proceed too. Can scientists manage celestial collisions successfully?
Questions arise however, about rarely seen objects.
1. How can humanity predict and defend earth from rarely seen objects.
2. With space being filled with humanities various objects such as space crafts, satellites and space junk, can these objects act like the Dart, deflecting foreign object towards the earth?
3. Can scientists locate and act upon a future threat in time?
4. Earths problems demand monetary investments, yet the cost of scientific studies compete with these same efforts. Feed the world, or protect the world from asteroids?
Why do humans wish to explore space? Perhaps we want to understand our place within the universe? Space exploration expands our technology, creating new industries while fostering peaceful connections to other nations. It is our curiosity and innovation that may well preserve and protect our world.
Other dangers surround us. Our Sun has potential threat meters also. Earths protector, the layer of atmosphere known as the ozone layer, acts as a filter from damaging gases, chemicals and the Sun’s Solar radiation. Earth’s Ozone is under threat from within, affected and depleted by earths self- created CO2 emissions and pollution. As the Ozone layer thins out, the Sun’s radiation warms out planet. Solar flares (Coronal Mass Ejections) have increased in intensity, affecting the earths electrical grids and communications. The more radiation we are exposed too, the greater medical, environmental and social threats placed upon humanity. While the earth absorbs @50% of the Suns radiation directly and indirectly, only 15% of this radiation is absorbed by our atmosphere. That is a problem. Decreased ozone levels leave people and the environment under threat. Medical conditions like cancer develop in regions where the ozone thins. Excessive droughts in other regions challenge humanity in their ability to keep our regions inhabitable.
The Globe is under attack from within and outside of our atmosphere. The challenges humanity is facing cannot be ignored. Studies in every scientific pursuit will be necessary, and with it the funds needed to maintain and protect our futures.