Avoiding an Extinction Event

What are our chances of survival?

Some people would like to blow potentially hazardous rocks out of the sky with a nuclear bomb. Others would deploy a radiation-intensive neutron bomb to induce a recoil and alter the asteroid’s orbit. A kinder, gentler approach would be to nudge it into a different orbit with slow but steady rockets that have somehow been attached to one side, or with a solar sail, which harnesses the pressure of sunlight for its propulsion.

The odds-on favorite solution, however, is the gravitational tractor. This involves parking a probe in space near the killer asteroid. As their mutual gravity draws the probe to the asteroid, an array of retro rockets fires, instead causing the asteroid to draw toward the probe and off its collision course with Earth.

Asteroid hitting earth
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Meanwhile, space missions would have to determine in great detail the structure and chemical composition of killer comets and asteroids. If humans one day become extinct from a catastrophic collision, we would be the laughing stock of aliens in the galaxy, for having a large brain and a space program, yet we met the same fate as that pea-brained, space program-less dinosaurs that came before us.

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