NASA chief Jim Bridenstine (Photo Credit: Twitter)
Asteroids (space rocks) are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Although asteroids orbit the Sun like planets, they are much smaller than planets. Asteroids, if hit any planet, can bring tsunamis, shock waves and flattening winds that could be catastrophic. Asteroids can approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. Therefore, our fortune can be turned into misfortune anytime. Recently, many deadly asteroids including 2019 OK, 2019 OD, 2015 HM10, 2019 OE, 2019 NN3, 2019 MB4, 2019 MT2, 2006 QV89, 2016 NO56M, RF12 and others approached towards the Earth, fortunately did not hit our planet. Though it is predicted that asteroids will not collide with the Earth for the next century at least, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said there was still a chance. Yes, you read it right.
Bridenstine said, "We have to make sure that people understand that this is not about Hollywood, it's not about the movies. This is about ultimately protecting the only planet we know, right now, to host life - and that is the planet Earth.”
In the meantime, NASA is in the process of developing the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). It is worth mentioning here that DART will attempt to redirect asteroids away before they can collide with Earth. The project will be tested in the year 2021.
However, it will attempt to knock one of the Didymos asteroids out of orbit. The project will occur in September 2022. Didymos A is 2,624ft (0.4miles) across but poses no threat to Earth. Didymos A is wider than the Burj Khalifa is tall.
Bridenstine was nominated to serve as NASA administrator by US President Donald Trump. Bridenstine had previously served on the Committee on Science, Space and Technology while a Republican Congressman in Oklahoma. However, opponents criticised Bridenstine’s appointment as the first elected official to become NASA administrator as he was a climate change denier.
After being given the top job of NASA, Bridenstine had said, “I fully believe and know that the climate is changing. I also know that we humans beings are contributing to it in a major way. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. We’re putting it into the atmosphere in volumes that we haven’t seen, and that greenhouse gas is warming the planet. That is absolutely happening, and we are responsible for it.”
Bridenstine was an executive director at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum. He has also served in the US Navy.
Coming back to the space rocks, according to a report published by spacetelescope.org, there are more than 7 lakh asteroids that have been found in space. Asteroids are mainly found in an area called the ‘main belt’, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.