Comets, Asteroids and Impacts. Should we worry and what can we do?
This was the subject of the Jeremiah Horrocks Spring Lecture at the University of Central Lancashire on Tuesday evening. A number of students from Year 10 and the Sixth Form, accompanied by Miss Hughes and Mr Hiller listened in amazement to Dr Robin Catchpole from the Institute of astronomy Cambridge, as we waited to hear whether there was hope for the Earth. The lecture started with incredible video footage of the 2013 Chelyabinsk asteroid, including security camera footage showing people being blown off their feet and windows being smashed by the shock wave as material from the asteroid vaporised. Some people believe that the end of the dinosaurs resulted either directly or indirectly, from a huge impact at Chicxulub and we were treated to a simulation of the effect such an event would have today. The resulting tsunami would have a huge impact on the world – including Preston.
The lecture continued, looking at the impact celestial events may have had on mythology and more recently the film industry. Then to NASA and what is being done to protect the Earth in the future. Do we explode nuclear missiles next to the object to deflect it, or paint it white and let the Sun’s radiation pressure do the work for us?
In summary we should be ok for the next hundred years or so, but if you are worried, take a look at the Sentry Earth Impact Monitoring website for daily updates. We would like to thank Dr Robin Catchpole for a truly informative lecture.