137th Gebirg wrote:
I don't think there are statistically more meteors coming down, just more people aware of/concerned about them with cameras on their phone now, looking up, and media outlets more willing to rebroadcast them.
Right. The California bolide wouldn't have made the news if it had happened on any other day. Similar events happen fairly often. This one just happened to occur on a day when everyone was watching the skies, not just amateur astronomers as usual.
Also, as human population spreads more and as cameras become more ubiquitous, more meteoric fireballs will occur where people can see and record them. And by the same token, as our ability to detect and track near-Earth objects increases, we'll become aware of more near misses, and there will be more cases where we detect multiple objects nearing or hitting the atmosphere in quick succession. Keep in mind that we've only discovered a fraction of the NEOs in 2012 DA14's size range. If that particular one hadn't been spotted last year, the story wouldn't be "Meteor explodes over Russia just 15 hours before asteroid flyby," but would just be "Meteor explodes over Russia."
I would also support the creation of a few devices to move such a space rock into a different course. But, if we don't have time we should build the mother of all nukes (something in the multi gigaton range)... perhaps even using anti matter when we are able to do so as a last line defense.
This isn't a situation where brute force is the optimal solution. You can't really blow up an asteroid like in the movies -- and if you could, it could actually make things worse, because all that mass would still be on the same collision course for Earth, and it would come down spread out far more widely. The only real solution is to divert the asteroid so it misses the planet. Which isn't that hard to do. It only takes the Earth about 7 minutes to traverse its own diameter as it moves through its orbit, so you just need to change the asteroid's course or speed a tiny bit so it crosses our orbit a few minutes later or earlier. This is the benefit of detection systems, because the earlier we find these objects, the easier it is to deflect them; not only do you have more time to alter an asteroid's course, but the farther away it is, the less of a course change you need to impart to get it to miss.