66 million years ago, planet Earth was hit by an asteroid whose size is now estimated to be a few tens of kilometers. This incredibly violent event ended much of life on Earth, particularly the dinosaurs that disappeared in the centuries following the impact.
To prevent the same from happening to the human species, NASA and other government space agencies are working to predict the trajectory of the largest asteroids, the “planet killers”.
But a recent study by the Apollo Academic Surveys says that the abundance of satellites in orbit could make it more difficult for experts in the years to come. “The satellites render some parts of the detector unusable,” explains one of the study participants.
However, a solution has been presented to prevent this problem from occurring in the future. The researchers explain that we should set up several space telescopes for “observation” in search of an asteroid capable of making contact with the Earth. Just as the James Webb Telescope studies the stars of our universe from a point 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, similar telescopes could move away from our planet and study asteroids, meteors and other comets. .
Kessler’s syndrome as a last risk
But according to several participants in this study, this solution only displaces the problem. Several people have mentioned “Kessler syndrome”, a situation theorized by the physicist of the same name.
In his analysis, Kessler explains that if Earth’s orbit becomes too populated, then it would be impossible to carry out rocket launches or planetary defense missions. If we are still far from target, the high-speed development of satellite constellations like that of SpaceX worries more and more scientists.
But the Apollo Academic Surveys study explains, with a hint of optimism, that solutions already exist today to combat asteroids that would darken directly on Earth. Mention here NASA’s DART mission which is expected to join a two asteroid system at the end of the month.
DART: a possible response to massive asteroids
The mission of the spacecraft sent thousands of kilometers from Earth is simple: to divert the trajectory of the space object by entering it. Equipped with an explosive charge, the DART probe will come into contact with one of the pair’s two asteroids. The researchers hope this collision will alter the trajectory of the two pieces of celestial rock.
If so, this solution could be used in the future to deflect the trajectory of asteroids that pass a little too close to Earth. This would save us from experiencing the same fate as the dinosaurs.