Wow! Talk about a cosmic wake-up call!?
On Friday (Feb. 15), our little blue planet got two visitors - the known half football field-sized asteroid 2012 DA 14 and another unknown 15-meter piece of rock that exploded in the air over a city in Russia. And both these incidents put a giant exclamation point on the fact that we truly do live in what has been described as a cosmic shooting gallery!
It was the kind of coincidence you don't really expect to ever see in your own life time. But just as we were waiting on one asteroid to pass harmlessly by, another smaller one came through the atmosphere and burst over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, injuring nearly a thousand people and breaking windows with a blast stronger than the Hiroshima bomb.
In short...we got lucky.
You see, that rock could've been a lot bigger! And even with several programs currently underway to scan the skies for incoming rocks, there are likely many that are escaping detection or aren't going to be detected until they are almost right on top of us. And then there's the comets! They can be just as tricky and can carry as much if not more wallop because they can sometimes appear to come out of nowhere and be considerably larger than asteroids.
It's a warning of sorts from the cosmos. "So...how's that space program coming along?"
Hopefully, it's got people thinking. And tops in their thoughts should be how do we take make sure fewer of these things sneak up on us?
It's an opportunity for even more amateurs to get "in the game" and for more professional/amateur collaborations. Here's hoping they get started soon.