Is a meteor attack a sign that space program initiatives need to be taken more seriously?
On Friday, the largest meteor in 100 years hit Moscow. People saw a flash of blinding light before an explosion of flying glass when a meteor streaked across the sky and blew up, injuring 1,100 people, according to USA Today. NASA estimated the meteor was only about the size of a bus and weighed an estimated 7,000 tons, USA Today reported. The explosion carried the force of twenty atomic bombs (although the atmosphere absorbed most of that energy).
The hit has some wondering if it’s time to monitor space more thoroughly. USA Today remarked how asteroids wiped out the dinosaurs — if humans fail to work on their space program, they could suffer the same fate. This is a drastic statement, but one that maintains some validity: an advanced space program allows us to spot meteors in time to change their trajectories or evacuate the impact zone, explains USA Today. Moving or avoiding asteroids is necessary for basic human safety, which should be enough of an argument to increase the funding for space programs (which as of late has fallen onto the backburner, or into the hands and whims of private investors).
If indeed NASA’s funding is going to continue to be cut, programs that monitor and manipulate asteroids should not suffer, first for the aforementioned reasons regarding safety, and second for the other benefits that accompany asteroid research, such as mining them for valuable resources.
Ultimately, however, the surprise Friday reminds us that the occurences of outer space, although seemingly far away, can pose significant threats to planet Earth. Advanced space programs afford us a level of preparedness that the dinosaurs unfortunately lacked.