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Monday, December 08, 2014

Asteroids coming - so we need to be prepared

They declared June 30, 2015, the world's first Asteroid Day.  


This story has an eerie Advent feel, but it's futuristic rather than Scriptural.

It makes no sense for our increasingly dangerous world to be obsessed with the epidemic death and destruction caused by religious extremism. Instead, we must put our earth in order, because it appears we're doomed by an incoming asteroid. Although the impact date is yet to be determined, the collision will eventually occur. We've been forewarned about this catastrophe by a Russian astrophysicist. 

Unfortunately, this asteroid collision is fact and not a made for television movie, reported in the Christian Science Monitor.

Moscow - A Russian astrophysicist says his team located a huge, mountain-sized asteroid whose orbit crosses the Earth's every three years.

Even though experts say the giant object, known as 2014 UR116, poses no immediate threat of collision, its unexpected discovery underscores how little is still known about asteroids and their unpredictable orbits.

Vladimir Lipunov, a professor at Moscow State University, announced the find in "Asteroid Attack,", a short documentary posted on the website of the Russian Space Agency, on Sunday. 

Mr. Lipunov says the asteroid, which he calculates is 370 meters in diameter, could hit the Earth with an explosion 1,000 times greater than the surprise 2013 impact of a bus-sized meteor in Russia. That object entered Earth’s atmosphere over the city of Chelyabinsk, resulting in a series of ferocious blasts that blew out windows and damaged buildings for miles around.

In the documentary, Lipunov says it's difficult to calculate the orbit of big objects like 2014 UR116 because, as they hurtle through the solar system, their trajectories are constantly being altered by the gravitational pull of nearby planets. "We need to permanently track this asteroid, because even a small mistake in calculations could have serious consequences," he said.

There is little indication that this particular asteroid could hit Earth in the next few decades, though over a much longer period a collision looks quite likely, says Natan Esmant, an expert with the official Space Research Institute in Moscow. 

A more serious issue, he says, is the estimated 100,000 near-Earth objects, such as asteroids and comets, which can cross our planet's orbit and are large enough to be dangerous. Only about 11,000 have so far been tracked and cataloged.

"Every couple of days new ones are being discovered," he says. "Scientists have increasingly powerful tools to do this work, but there's a lot still to be done. Every object that crosses the Earth's path can be a potential threat."

Since the Chelyabinsk meteor, which came as a complete surprise to experts, scientists have been warning about the danger and trying to pool their data in order to get a clearer picture of the swarms of debris that are lurking in space. Scientists use conventional telescopes, radar and infrared detectors to hunt asteroids. The first satellite specifically designed to identify asteroids was launched last year. A movement of scientists, astronauts, musicians, and business people have launched a campaign to dramatize the danger and seek ways of protecting Earth from what seems like an inevitable destructive collision.

They declared June 30, 2015, the world's first Asteroid Day

Bible Scripture reinforces this astro-inevitability:

The sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
- Mark 13.24

But, thanks to a Russian astrophysicist and other scientists, we are forewarned about this inevitability.  

Whether the asteroid collision happens or not, the fact it, many people are tragically preoccupied with religious extremism, while the danger to our existence lies outside of our control.  

Therefore, we must put our earth in order. Humans can do this by working together for a common good, rather than wasting our time fueling polarizing ideologies. As we are now in the Liturgical season of Advent, we must prepare.... cometh, as a thief in the night.

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