The end of the world clearly didn’t happen in 2012, but maybe it’s time to prepare for 2032.
Last month, astronomers were mesmerized as they watched an asteroid just barely miss Earth, and at this point, aren’t quite ready to dismiss the idea that an asteroid en route to hit Earth in 2032 won’t miss its target.
2013 TV135, the asteroid that almost collided with Earth last month, has about a one percent chance of hitting Earth on its return orbit in 2032, but they aren’t willing to fully state they are confident it will leave Earth’s trajectory.
“To put it another way, that puts the current probability of no impact in 2032 at about 99.998 percent,” Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office said in a statement released Friday.
This isn’t the first time NASA has had to deal with watching the path of asteroids or floating debris in space. Sometimes, the discovery of an asteroid heading straight for Earth can be discovered at too late in the game, leaving the space program without time to properly prepare.
It’s one of the reasons Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy for the U.S. signed an agreement with Russian officials to look into whether nuclear weapons could be used as a means to fight off incoming asteroids.
NBC News’ science editor Alan Boyle said whether the answer to fighting asteroids and the cataclysmic events that would follow is nuclear weapons or something else, it’s an issue that could use some more discussion.
Boyle puts forward the possible scenario. If an asteroid the size of 1,300 feet were to hit the Earth, it could wipe out an entire region or cause a tsunami that in turn causes calamitous after effects.
Scientists and astronomers have been advising governments around the world for years to look into intergalactic defense methods as the chances of not being hit by a passing asteroid are dwindling daily.