It was around 66 million years ago that a giant space rock hit the earth and resulted in the extinction of dinosaurs. Even though no such doomsday space rocks have approached earth since then, several space experts including Dr. Iain McDonald strongly believe that earth will get hit by a giant asteroid one day or the other. And a recent study has suggested that asteroid Apophis, measuring 340 meters in diameter could hit the earth in 2068.
Yarkovsky Effect and NASA's Planetary Defense Weapon
According to the new study report, asteroid Apophis, also known as the God of Chaos asteroid is currently speeding towards the earth due to the Yarkovsky effect. This study carried out by researchers at the University of Hawaii suggested that some parts of this giant space rock are getting heated up due to the Yarkovsky effect.
As scientists have predicted a narrow chance of asteroid Apophis hitting the earth, the entire world is looking forward to seeing NASA's efficiency to stop this incoming asteroid. It has been previously reported that NASA is developing a planetary defense weapon to deflect an incoming space body.
According to experts at NASA, this planetary defense weapon will be a large spacecraft, and it will be designed to hit the incoming asteroid before it reaches the vicinity of the earth. Space scientists believe that this cosmic collision will deflect the asteroid from its current collision course, and thus the blue planet can be saved from possible destruction.
Is Planetary Defense Weapon Capable Enough to Stop Apophis?
However, several space experts argue that this planetary defense weapon is not capable enough to stop giant asteroids like Apophis. Some of these experts claim that the only way to stop a giant asteroid is by nuking them. However, nuking asteroids like Apophis could result in radioactive rain that could negatively impact life on earth.
Best Way to Protect Earth from Asteroid Apophis
Natalie Starkey, a top space scientist who has written the book 'Stardust' recently put forward one of the most effective ways by which earth can be protected from asteroids. According to Starkey, conducting a pre-emptive strike is one of the best options to protect the earth. The concept behind a pre-emptive strike is very simple; humans should blow up the asteroid on one of its close visits to the earth.
"If the object was one that passed Earth frequently, moving ever closer to impact with each orbit, then it could be blown up in a pre-emptive strike on one of its prior close-Earth visits before the one that was predicted to cause total annihilation, nuking it as it was heading away from Earth. In this way, any radioactive fallout from the destruction wouldn't affect life on Earth," said Starkey.