The DART Mission & Apocalyptic Crisis
Author: Pastor Timothy Tin
Translator: Mandy Kwan
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA has a Double Asteroid Redirection Test or DART mission that successfully changed the orbit of an asteroid named Dimorphos by intentionally smashing into it on September 26th at 7:14 pm EST. This space mission success demonstrates that humans can take action to deflect a potentially deadly asteroid approaching the planet (Tim Fernholz). The space probe’s speed of approximately 15,000-per hour collision with Dimorphos with an impact of 1210 pounds which left a crater and altered its speed by 1 percent but did not obliterate it entirely. How this impacts Dimorphos’ orbit will need further evaluation from the data collected. When asked why NASA is engaging in such missions, its chief scientist Katherine Calvin said, “if an asteroid hits the earth, it will alter its ecosystem and cause extinction of different species. Dinosaurs didn’t have a space program to help them know what was coming, but we do. DART allows us to prevent potentially life-threatening asteroids from colliding with earth.” In other words, even as humans have made great strides in landing on the moon, and ultimately continue to expand their space endeavors, when one asteroid hits the earth, it will be of apocalyptic proportions. Therefore it’s important to have a plan to prevent or divert asteroid collisions on earth. Some might think the chance of this is nearly zero, and it is a ploy to use these pseudo science fiction movie scenarios to frighten those who are novice about astronomy. Why do we worry so much?
Let us look at a recent event that occurred in 2013. On February 15 in Chelyabinski Oblast of Russia, an object exploded in a meteor air burst, the largest ever recorded on earth, following the 1908 Tunguska event near Siberia. The Chelyabinski meteor had lots of recorded footage documenting its descent onto earth. NASA predicted this meteor would be 17 meters wide and would explode with the energy of approximately 500 kilotons of explosives, similar to 30 Hiroshima nuclear explosions. It might seem astonishing but the Tunguska meteor’s diameter was 50 meters, impacting an area of 2000 square km, akin to the size of New Taipei City. Meteoras 1 km in diameter would obliterate the entire human civilization.
What currently draws astrophysicists’ attention is the 99942 Apophis. It is predicted to enter the earth’s atmosphere on April 13, 2029. According to NASA, Apophis will be about 32000 km away from earth. It appears to be a relatively safe distance but compared to the moon, Apophis will be 12 times closer to earth compared to the moon. This gives a great opportunity to observe the meteor up close. Though it is unlikely that Apophis will strike the earth’s surface, its impact, should it collide with the earth, would equate to 114,000 times the impact of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima. Still, no one can predict what will happen on April 14, 2029, the day after Apophis passes the earth. According to the Bible “But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.” (Matthew 13:25) Would this be Jesus’ prophecy about the apocalyptic event that might not happen in 2029, but perhaps in a few decades? Scientists have a planetary defense for our planet. Do you have a defense plan for your spiritual life? Though we might not encounter death and destruction caused by a meteor in our lifetime, what will happen when we die— where does our spirit go when our body dies? Only will we enter eternal life if we trust in Jesus. Are you ready to accept our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ?
Author: Pastor of Christian Alliance Bible Church in Los Angeles, CA