Tag Archives: Rusty Schweickart

Apophis: Doomsday April 13th 2036

12 Apr

For centuries a dark shadow has been cast over this world, as man has forever strived to predict… ‘When is the end’? Nostradamus had a go, Jesus did not have a clue and 21st Century Man has had a pop at bringing it on as soon as possible. Now with light being cast upon REAL cosmic events that are happening above our heads, is the world totally oblivious to what may one day bring the apocalypse? The globe will have to pull together to defeat whatever this way comes, but why? And how?

We are here to explore Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs). These are huge masses of celestial debris that pass by our fragile planet at colossal speed one day surely to end in disaster. We all know that these sort of cataclysmic events go on because they have happened before on this Earth and visibly to others. It is inevitably going to happen again and soon, what are we looking at and are we ready?

Planetoid 99942 Apophis (2004 MN4) (animation)...

Apophis is one such asteroid in orbit around our sun, that poses a threat to our continual inhabitancy of this planet we call home. Its pretty big, not the biggest or smallest but just right for wiping out a quarter of life on Earth. This huge unstable ball of rock and ice is about the size the Titanic was before her own disaster. Apophis weighs significantly more than the doomed ship and is hurtling this way at 67,000 mph with no reverse gear.

Apophis’ trajectory at the moment is not on a collision course with us but it is this fact and that it is due to pass by us in 2029 that is causing such a problem.  This transit via our world gives scientists opportunity to study the rock and decide whether or not to act on its future path.

The problem is that when Apophis does come close it may well enter a ‘gravitational keyhole’, half a mile wide above the Earth. This could well affect the future of the asteroids route that may one day cause a collision with either the moon or us. The chance of this is slim but by no means impossible. In 2009 it was predicted that the chance of a collision was 1 in 250,000, scary when you think that there is a 1 in 576,000 chance of being struck by lightning. So if in the next decade the chance is increased, who will help?

Astronaut Russell L. "Rusty" Schweic...

Russell ‘Rusty’ Schweickart is one man trying to detect and stop these death bringers before they come to close. Rusty was part of the team testing the NASA module for the missions to the moon in the 1960’s so he is more than capable of such responsibility. Rusty’s busy resume speaks for itself when you observe the administrations and institutions he has set up and chaired, not to mention the B612 Foundation. Established by Rusty and his former colleagues in 2001, this foundation aims to highlight and eradicate the danger NEA’s threaten to Earth.

Rusty has spoken on countless occasions about ways to stop or deflect these doomsday devices almost inspired by science fiction works of the past. One idea that he and others have put forward is what is called a ‘gravity tractor’. This is a spacecraft that would follow the asteroid’s orbit passed Earth and its own gravity would act slowly against the rock pushing it out and away from the keyhole. Other suggestions such as detonating a thermo-nuclear device on Apophis haven’t been received well for obvious reasons. One being that if you were to set an atomic bomb off would that not just make smaller, harder to deflect asteroids?

Apophis may well live up to its name by being christened after the Egyptian god Apep, veneration of darkness and chaos, sworn enemy of Ra the Sun god.

So scientific research will have to continue and be innovated long into this decade to determine whether Apophis is to be the bringer of doom and gloom to the billions that call this planet home.

Related articles