It’s the ultimate doomsday scenario: Astronomers spot an enormous miles-wide asteroid headed for a collision course with Earth. An impact with our planet means a fiery goodbye to civilization—and life—as we know it, and there are only a few short weeks to rally together a plucky group of oil drillers the citizens of the world to somehow fight this apocalyptic threat.
Fortunately, it’s doubtful we’ll ever be faced with this kind of sudden Armageddon. NASA, other government space agencies, and astronomers across the world have a pretty solid way of tracking huge, civilization-destroying asteroids, mapping their trajectories many years or decades in advance before they might head our way. Such ample warning would give us more than enough time to prepare some kind of deflection strategy.
Instead, it’s the smaller and “medium-sized” asteroids we need to worry about—those ranging from 100 to 1,000 feet in diameter. That’s according to the Emergency Asteroid Defence Project based out of Copenhagen, Denmark. A non-profit organization comprised of engineers and science entrepreneurs, the EADP is trying to increase awareness about the threats posed by these less domineering asteroids. They argue that because of their smaller size, the space rocks are harder to spot many years in advance, perhaps going undetected until just a few a short weeks before they crash.
And if scientists find one to be headed toward a major city, the impact could be on par with that of an atomic blast.