NASA announced on Friday that the meteorite that exploded over Russia was a small asteroid, probably around 15 meters across. A subsequent collection of fragments by Russian scientists has confirmed this.
The event resulted in thousands of injuries and millions of dollars of damage as the asteroid exploded in the atmosphere with a blast as large as a nuclear bomb detonating. It did, in fact, trigger monitoring systems that have been set up to look for nuclear test explosions.
This could have been so much worse. Imagine the effect if this had happened directly over the Kremlin in Moscow or Washington D.C.? Considering the paranoia so often displayed in international politics, would calmer heads have prevailed long enough to determine what really happened before “hitting the button”? A knee-jerk response to a presumed attack would trigger devastation that would almost certainly be the “end of civilization as we know it”.
This to me says three things.
- It is imperative that the world’s major nations combine resources to create a better detection system for this type of space debris.
- We need to invest in effective counter-measures.
- Nuclear weapons need strict systems to avoid “Pavlovian” launches.
Scientists and SF writers have been warning of this potential danger for decades. It’s about time the world took notice.