Climate change is cited endlessly as the most dire threat our planet faces, all the while fiery doom hurtles through space every day, narrowly missing our beloved blue planet. If you enjoy sleeping, it’s probably best not to think about it – until headlines like this one pop up, that is.
Earlier this week, a massive fireball streaked across the sky above Queensland, Australia before apparently impacting the Earth or exploding above ground. Residents reported feeling the ground shake and being blinded by an immense flash of light. According to the Brisbane Times, police received multiple calls from concerned residents who were frightened by the impact. While the exact nature of the falling object is unknown, astronomer Owen Bennedick at the Wappa Falls Observatory told Brisbane Times that reports of the impact spread across a 100-kilometre radius, showing that “whatever it was, it was big.”
Bennedick went on to say that these strikes show just how unprepared governments, astronomers, and space agencies really are when it comes to preparing for and detecting Earthbound objects such as meteorites and asteroids:
There’s not enough research done around the world and not enough observatories or observing time to do it. It’s only when they get a big scare, like when comet Schumacher-Levy hit Jupiter or when the one blew up over Chelyabinsk, everyone sort of runs to the telescope and looks for a while then they get bored and go off and do other things.
Earlier this month, a massive asteroid capable of severely damaging the Earth passed between the Sun and Moon before it was detected. This incident and others like it caused NASA scientists to issue a statement warning of this critical lapse in Earth’s preparedness. A current NASA project is testing methods to snare and redirect Earthbound asteroids before they reach our planet, but these technologies have yet to be tested on actual asteroids in space. If the big one is going to hit us, let’s just hope it hits us before November.