• A professor warned about a potential impact event on Earth
  • Unidentified asteroids could hit Earth without any time
  • Space agencies are working on missions to deflect asteroids

A university professor warned that an impact event on Earth caused by a massive asteroid is inevitable. For the expert, this is the main reason why international agencies should support the asteroid deflection missions currently being planned by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

The dire warning was issued by Alan Fitzsimmons, a professor at the Queen’s University Belfast. According to Fitzsimmons, asteroids that are known to approach Earth, which are referred to as near-Earth objects, are cataloged in databases maintained by space agencies.

However, despite the number of known asteroids listed in the databases, there are still massive rocks in space that remain undetected. For Fitzsimmons, these unidentified asteroids pose the biggest threat to Earth since they could hit the planet at any time.

“We will get a serious asteroid impact some time,” he said, according to Express. “It may not be in our lifetime, but mother nature controls when that will happen. “We will need to do something about it.”

Due to the looming threat of an asteroid impact, Fitzsimmons stressed the importance of supporting the Hera mission. Hera is a spaceflight expedition planned by the ESA as part of NASA Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). Basically, this joint mission will test the possibility of deflecting an asteroid by crashing a spacecraft on it.

The first phase of the mission involves launch the DART spacecraft and crashing it into a binary asteroid system known as Didymos. Then, the ESA’s Hera mission will visit the asteroid system to measure changes in its trajectory.

The goal of the mission is to determine if it would be possible to prevent an impact event on Earth by deflecting an asteroid. For Fitzsimmons, it’s important to carry out the DART and Hera missions as soon as possible to check if Earth has a chance of stopping a catastrophic asteroid impact on the planet.

“We can do as many calculations as we like, and we have done on paper, but until you try it and check your calculations you don't know if you're going to succeed or not,” he stated. “That's why Hera is so important – it's our test to see whether or not we can shift an asteroid so it doesn't hit Earth.”

Image: Artist illustration of an asteroid heading for the Earth Pixabay