X Close

Events

Home

UCL events news and reviews

Menu

NEOShield – the program the dinosaurs wish they’d had

news editor11 September 2013

Bruce Willis, star of the
1998 film Armageddon
(by jmribolhos54 on Flickr).

pencil-iconWritten by Joanne Leonard, a current PhD student at Imperial College London. Joanne is a science communication intern at the European Planetary Science Congress which is taking place at UCL.

In February 2013 an entirely undetected asteroid entered the Earth’s atmosphere above Chelyabinsk, Russia at roughly 60 times the speed of sound and at a very shallow entry angle. The object, which was ‘only’ 17-20 metres across, exploded as it entered the atmosphere producing a bright flash, many small meteorites and a powerful shock wave damaging 7,200 buildings and injuring 1,500 people.

The light produced was brighter than the Sun, the heat from the fireball was felt by people on the ground and it released 20-30 times more energy than the atomic bomb detonated at Hiroshima. It also caused significant panic as the lack of detection meant no warning and no explanation!

So what if something 500 metres across was to come our way? Have you ever wondered if there were secret international committees discussing this?

There are.

(more…)