Before you run for your lives, be aware that even though the rock hurtling through space within four million miles of planet Earth this weekend is larger than a skyscraper, it isn’t a threat to hit us.
That doesn’t stop the mind from pondering what would happen if one day one did. BANG! We need a plan.
“We have Elon Musk and others say we really need to put more attention to this. We need a plan. We don’t have a plan. We have a big rock and we discover it’s coming our way and we don’t know what to do about it,” cautions Houston Museum of Natural Science astronomer Dr. Carolyn Sumners. She says members of Congress have a hard time considering appropriating funds for things that might happen after they are long departed, and though last year NASA signed off on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy plan of monitoring asteroids closely and possible deflection if one threatens, there hasn’t been much movement in that direction. And deflection, Dr. Sumners advises, is the best choice. “You don’t break them up because then you could get a bunch of them and that could be even worse.”
This weekend’s flyby asteroid is named 2000 QW7 and is more than two thousand feet in length. It passes Earth around sunset Saturday afternoon.