A key lesson in unintended consequences that would-be #ClimateCrisis heroes may wish to be mindful of as they endeavor to save the planet from us humans.
Legal Insurrection readers may recall that last September, I reported that NASA tested the “Double Asteroid Redirection Test” (DART) spacecraft successfully, as it intentionally slammed into an asteroid in an historic test of humanity’s ability to protect Earth from an impact event.
The data analyzed from the mission confirmed that the asteroid’s course has been altered. However, there are some unanticipated results that are now being shared.
Astronomers using Hubble’s extraordinary sensitivity have discovered a swarm of boulders that were possibly shaken off the asteroid when NASA deliberately slammed the half-ton DART impactor spacecraft into Dimorphos at approximately 14,000 miles per hour.
The 37 free-flung boulders range in size from three feet to 22 feet across, based on Hubble photometry. They are drifting away from the asteroid at little more than a half-mile per hour – roughly the walking speed of a giant tortoise. The total mass in these detected boulders is about 0.1% the mass of Dimorphos.
“This is a spectacular observation – much better than I expected. We see a cloud of boulders carrying mass and energy away from the impact target. The numbers, sizes, and shapes of the boulders are consistent with them having been knocked off the surface of Dimorphos by the impact,” said David Jewitt of the University of California at Los Angeles, a planetary scientist who has been using Hubble to track changes in the asteroid during and after the DART impact.
“This tells us for the first time what happens when you hit an asteroid and see material coming out up to the largest sizes. The boulders are some of the faintest things ever imaged inside our solar system.”
— Marc Hoare (@020644) August 9, 2023
Theoretically, the boulders could eventually be problematic for Earthers.
While the test was a success, it came with unintended consequences: ‘Smaller rocks flying off into space could create their own problems,’ the team shared in a press release.
Even a 15-foot boulder hitting Earth would deliver as much energy as the atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city during World World II.
…A new study led by UCLA astronomer David Jewitt said: ‘Because those big boulders basically share the speed of the targeted asteroid, they’re capable of doing their own damage.’
Jewitt said that given the high speed of a typical impact, a 15-foot boulder hitting Earth would deliver as much energy as the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.
Dimorphos was never a threat to Earth but was chosen by NASA as the test target because it is six million miles from our planet.
This makes the moonlet close enough to be of interest but far enough not to have implications in case of the kind of unintended consequences UCLA found.
Well, let’s hope those boulders generated during that test don’t redirect here. At least, until the 2024 presidential candidates have been selected. Then the ticket comprised of the Sweet Meteor of Death/Supervolcano of Doom might get a mandate from the people.
Meanwhile, perhaps this is a key lesson in unintended consequences that would-be #ClimateCrisis ‘heroes’ may wish to be mindful of as they offer geoengineering solutions they would like to unleash on a global scale.
István Szapudi, an astronomer from the University of Hawaiʻi, argued his far-fetched concept was merely an enormous ‘solar shield’.
The shield – which would be made of the ultra strong ‘wonder material’ graphene – would block energy from the sun and cool down our planet.
The academic has outlined his madcap idea in a new paper, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Much like being under an umbrella in hot weather, the space shield would cool down Earth, but without plunging us into the next ice age.
‘In Hawaiʻi, many use an umbrella to block the sunlight as they walk about during the day,’ Szapudi said.
‘I was thinking, could we do the same for Earth and thereby mitigate the impending catastrophe of climate change?’
What could possibly go wrong?
— ctsbillc (@ctsbillc) August 8, 2023
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