Joseph Nuth, an award-winning astro-biologist for NASA has issued a plea to policymakers in the United States to begin preparations for what he termed as ‘an extinction level event’ which could strike the planet Earth in the future.
Speaking at a conference in San Francisco Nuth pointed out that extinction level events, such as those which led to the death of the dinosaurs seemed to occur approximately every fifty to sixty million years. However, he said that it was difficult to put a date on when humanity would be threatened by such an event.
He said: “They are the extinction-level events, things like dinosaur killers, they’re 50 to 60 million years apart, essentially. JOSEPH NUTH (ASTRO-BIOLOGIST FOR NASA) CONCLUDES: “YOU COULD SAY WE’RE DUE.”
According to Nuth, the primary problem is not that scientists are unaware of when Earth will be threatened by this kind of catastrophe but rather than humanity has not even begun to lay the groundwork for dealing with such an event in order to ensure the survival of the species. “The biggest problem, basically, is there’s not a hell of a lot we can do about it at the moment, ” he said.
Nuth believes that he has the solution to this huge problem. He has called upon NASA to build two new space crafts. One would be an interceptor rocket and the other would act as an observer. The observer could warn NASA ahead of time if a comet or an asteroid was on a course that could constitute a severe threat to the planet Earth. The rocket would then be kitted out with a nuclear device and sent to destroy the threatening object.
In order to carry this kind of quick, reacting mission, NASA would have to dramatically reduce the usual five year period between a mission being approved and a launch. “It’s really imperative that we reduce that reaction time, ” said Nuth. NASA missions of this nature would have to be approved ahead of Congress ahead of time and this protocol may need to be re-assessed in dealing with this kind of emergency situation.
In addition to requiring a new set of protocols, NASA would also need a considerable funding boost to be able to equip themselves with this kind of defence system. “We’re talking a considerable amount of money, ” Nuth said. “The NASA request would probably be for several hundred million dollars to produce one of these spacecraft.”
Nuth emphasised that this plan was not official NASA policy and that he was speaking as a science expert rather than a representative of NASA’s administration board. For their part, NASA officials do not seem to be particularly concerned about extinction level events. In a statement released by the space agency, officials said that they had discovered 95% of the objects that could pose a danger to Earth and did not believe that there would be a significant threat for at least a hundred years.
However, Nuth said that this optimism on NASA’s part may be misplaced. He pointed out that Earth had a close encounter with an incredibly dangerous comet only two years ago when it passed “within cosmic spitting distance” of Mars. The comet in this case was not detected until just over a year before it would due to collide with Mars. “If you look at the schedule for high-reliability spacecraft and launching them, it takes five years to launch a spacecraft. We had 22 months of total warning, ” Nuth warned.