The most recent historic landing of a robot on a comet by the European Space Agency was an encouraging 1st step toward defending the Earth against interplanetary objects. This was a phenomenal achievement considering the distances involved as well as the speeds and precise control required to hit such a relatively small object hurtling through space.
It was an in-genius use of "sling-shot gravity" to get enough speed and the right trajectory to catch up to the comet that was travelling about 84,000 miles per hour.
The landing was also nothing short of miracle engineering and communication with a robot so far away.
However, the fact that this mission took 10 years to accomplish illustrates how far the human race still has to go to provide an adequate Earth defense against a future potential asteroid or comet strike.
If a comet or asteroid ever threatens the Earth, one of the more likely defense scenarios would involve sending an "Impactor" to collide with the object in an attempt to "nudge" the asteroid or comet out of its flight path, thereby missing the Earth.
The biggest challenges in this defense scenario are:
1) building something with an enormous mass, large enough to make a difference
2) propelling this mass to unimaginable speeds and then hitting the object soon enough to change its trajectory. Everything in space semms to be travelling at about 50-100,000 miles per hour, so this is an enormous challenge.
3) Hitting the object soon enough to move it off its flight plath.
Congratulations to the European Space Agency, who just demonstrated that 1 out of these 3 tasks is possible.
Maddalena Environmental Inc.