McClaughry: A serious danger: asteroid impact

by John McClaughry

I have long preached that one of mankind’s biggest issues is protecting our planet from an asteroid impact. Last month the Hawaii-based Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System detected an overlooked 600-foot-long “potentially hazardous” asteroid with the help of new software technology.

Scientists rely on algorithms to spot asteroids that may threaten Earth. Conventional algorithms need four images of a moving object to confirm whether it’s a genuine space rock. But new software developed by researchers at the University of Washington cuts the number of necessary nightly observations by half, boosting the ability of observatories to quickly identify these projectiles.

The asteroid just discovered through artificial intelligence analysis of astronomical images will approach within 140,000 miles of Earth’s orbit, but there is no impact risk for the next century and very likely for millennia in the future.

The world’s family of asteroid-hunting telescopic surveys have so far found more than 32,000 near-Earth asteroids. Most of those capable of inflicting planet-scale devastation have been found because it’s easier to spot bigger rocks glinting in sunlight.

But asteroids at least 460 feet long — those with the potential to wipe out cities or small countries, should they impact Earth — are considerably more difficult to locate. They are mostly undiscovered at present, with about 10,500 found out of a projected total of roughly 25,000.

I’ll say it again: Forget this foolishness about putting people on Mars. Spend money to discover those dangerous asteroids. 

The author, a Kirby resident, is founder and vice-president of the Ethan Allen Institute. To read all EAI news and commentary, go to

Categories: Commentary

9 replies »

  1. ….Unless they are headed straight toward Montpelier or the City of Burlington. Then and only then can you simply allow nature to take its course.

  2. Next President Trump will call his best bud Kim Jong Un to pulverize them with some of the long-range missiles he has pointed at the US.

  3. Have the progressive liberals declared yet that the asteroids are the result of man made climate change? Still time for them to make their tin foil hats…

    • Henny Penny says: The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
      Be skirt!
      Live in fear!
      Trust what fear mongers say…

  4. Mr McLaugry assumes that Mars, which is 56 million miles closer to the asteroid belt than Earth, couldn’t be used as a staging area from which to launch a missile to deflect a potential killer asteroid much sooner than it could be launched from Earth.

    • I should have said that by having a base 56 million miles closer to the asteroid belt, it could be coupled with whatever resources there are on Earth to have a better chance of being able to mount the earliest effective deflection strategy feasible, whether missile or laser.

  5. “Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System”

    Can we as individuals opt-out of the alert early? I don’t want some liberal mandating away my only shot at one of life’s last honorable deaths…

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