The Earth Defense Day celebrated on March 30 and the recent 9 years since the fall of the Chelyabinsk meteorite give rise to an assessment of the state of affairs in the field of creating means of protecting our planet from catastrophic collisions with asteroids and comet nuclei. About the need to create them, immediately after the Chelyabinsk event, there were many conversations, statements and various resolutions at the national and international levels. And as our developments almost a quarter of a century ago showed, we could create a Planetary Defense System (SPS) in 5-7 years. That is, over the past period, humanity could already be guaranteed to protect itself from asteroid and, in part, cometary danger.
But, unfortunately, this did not happen. Although, in the world, mainly in the USA and a number of other countries, work in a number of areas is being carried out quite intensively. They achieved the main successes in the field of detection of asteroids and comets approaching the Earth. They discover more than 2,000 such objects a year, while in our country, according to one of the representatives of the Russian Academy of Sciences, less than 0.1 percent of this number, that is, about two. At the same time, it was found that in the sphere of attraction of the Earth, the radius of which is 1 million km, about 300 asteroids ranging in size from meters to hundreds of meters fly by a year. That is, our planet is under constant shelling, and a catastrophe, much more serious than Chelyabinsk, can happen at any moment.
Another area where significant progress has been made abroad is the study of asteroids and comets with the help of spacecraft, as well as the development of methods and means of intercepting and influencing them. For 30 years, 12 expeditions to 14 asteroids and 6 comets have been organized. And in the coming years, 9 more flights to these celestial bodies are planned. In Russia, there were no such expeditions and are not planned.
Why, despite these successes and achievements, as well as the availability of the necessary technologies back in the 90s of the last century, on the basis of which our Center with the cooperation of organizations developed the concept of creating the international SPZ "Citadel", humanity has not started to create it ?
You can talk a lot on this topic, but you can do without words. This drawing, in my opinion, clearly shows what humanity is fond of, instead of taking care of its own safety.
Unfortunately, I do not know the author of this drawing, for which I myself have already completed the little man on the top of the tree and the falling asteroid. I took this drawing from my friends who are developing nuclear means of protection against dangerous celestial bodies.
A clear illustration of how events in the world can develop in the event that a space object threatening to destroy humanity can be seen in the science fiction film Don't Look Up, recently released in the USA. It shows the events that began to take place in this country after the discovery of a comet flying towards the Earth, capable of destroying all life on it. Moreover, some of them strikingly remind me of what I have been facing for more than 35 years in my unsuccessful attempts to convince the people on whom it depends to decide to create an SDR. Therefore, based on some plots, it is possible to show the state of affairs in the field of planetary protection.
From my point of view, there is very little fantastic in the film, and it quite realistically, although with the wide use of various satirical means, reflects the state and prospects for solving this global problem. For example, I am very familiar with the difficulties encountered by scientists who discovered a killer comet in an attempt to communicate the imminent danger to the leadership of the country. The film shows with sarcasm and grotesque how difficult it was for them to overcome the barriers from all sorts of officials, advisers and experts.
It is obvious that such information must be guaranteed and promptly communicated to the leaders of states around the world. I wrote about this in one of my articles more than 25 years ago, calling this problem the “notification dilemma”. And the fact that such a problem is real is confirmed, for example, by the events associated with the discovery by astronomers in the early 2000s of an asteroid, which, according to preliminary estimates, could fall in the northern hemisphere of the Earth. But, instead of urgently notifying about the danger, they continued their observations, wasting precious time. Fortunately, after a while it turned out that the asteroid was flying past our planet.
The film also reflected another problem, which I called the “alert dilemma”. She stood before the leadership of the country when they had to decide whether or not to notify the population that the end of the world was coming. And here their unpreparedness and inability to adequately respond and make decisions in a critical situation was clearly shown. It was suggested, for example, to hide information about the threat or to say that the probability is low, etc. And despite the fact that it is absolutely impossible to hide the approach of a comet, unlike an asteroid. Except to forbid people to look at the sky.
Of course, the media will play an important role in informing people, which in the film is called "disgustingly friendly." Unfortunately, in our real life you can see examples of the negative role played by the media. This is evidenced, in particular, not only by the blatant illiteracy of a number of journalists who do not distinguish observatories from conservatories, meters from kilometers, etc., but also by how they can deliberately, without any reason, escalate psychosis in society .
For example, relatively recently, when people have not yet had time to sleep off after the celebration of the New Year, they are thrown news with reference to the Russian Emergencies Ministry. It claims that the asteroid Apophis is flying towards the Earth and they begin to tell what a terrible catastrophe awaits us. Although it has long been proven that the notorious (I can’t call it another way) Apophis does not threaten us with anything
Considering my long-standing good relations with the Ministry of Emergency Situations and being a member of its Expert Council, I was going to apply there for clarification. However, the Ministry of Emergency Situations noticed this misinformation in time and refuted this nonsense. But after all, not everyone who read the panic note saw this refutation. And before I had time to finish these lines, the delusional horror story about the end of the world on May 6 of this year reappears.
I can't help but give another example. A little time has passed after the New Year's "news", as the story of an erudite deputy appears, in which he tells what terrible consequences will happen on Earth if an asteroid collides with it, which should fly past it next year.
I have a question for him - for what purpose did you carry this nonsense? Maybe it's better to take up your direct duties and show your erudition there? For example, to develop and adopt a law on the creation of the SDR, which I have been calling for for decades. Or at least a law penalizing the spread of false panic rumors in the press.
Many, I think, remember how for a long time, almost from every iron, they convinced us and even showed us in the sky that the planet Nibiru was flying, which would destroy our planet. Therefore, during one of the conversations with journalists, I expressed the opinion that it is necessary to punish such a lie. After all, it is known that a serious punishment is provided for spreading panic rumors about an impending explosion in some public place. And in the case of Nibiru, tens of millions of people were psychologically manipulated. I do not presume to say that this conversation played a role, but somehow I have not heard anything about Nibiru for a long time.
After the discovery of a space threat, naturally, the question arises - what to do? Obviously, it will be necessary to try to mobilize all the available space and other resources of mankind for protection. But the film shows what is more real for our degrading world.
Of course, it started with the banal - but how to make money on it? I won’t be surprised if in a real similar situation there are those who will offer, for example, to change masks for helmets. But the film proposes a different idea - to plant a cometary nucleus on Earth and enrich itself at the expense of the minerals it contains. Of course, this is complete nonsense. And it wouldn't even be worth talking about. But on one of our TV channels they once showed a program in which, in all seriousness, they claimed that they had uncovered the secret that extraterrestrial beings in a state of suspended animation could fly to Earth and other planets inside cometary nuclei.
Apparently, the authors of this program did not know another secret, which is encrypted in textbooks for elementary grades. I will open it. It turns out that upon impact of a multi-kilometer body at a speed of several tens of kilometers per second, energy equivalent to the explosion of millions of tons of TNT will be released and it, together with extraterrestrial beings, will disintegrate into molecules and atoms.
I wonder what the Commission for Combating Pseudoscience of our Academy is doing? Or do the same specialists work there, like those who reveal secrets and carry shocking nonsense on TV channels?
Thus, it is obvious that a very serious problem in organizing defense against space threats is the incompetence of the persons who must make the appropriate decisions. An example of this, as shown in the film, was the failure of an operation to intercept a comet, organized by the American space agency, which was headed by a former anesthesiologist.
Of course, the film does not touch upon all the problems associated with the organization of protection against asteroid-comet hazard. For example, international cooperation, without which it is impossible to solve this global problem, is practically not reflected. Although its necessity is indicated in the document “National Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan for Near-Earth Objects” adopted in 2018. It emphasizes that the United States must lead these efforts at the international level.
It is clear that in a short newspaper article, as well as in a feature film, all the scientific, technical and other problems of creating an SPZ cannot be reflected in detail. But we are well aware of them, and we know how to solve them. Those interested can familiarize themselves with the principles of creating the Citadel SPA on the website www.pdc.su, until it, like our Center, was closed due to the lack of any support for our activities.
But the main problem preventing the creation of the SDR lies not in the scientific and technical, but in the moral and moral sphere. This, by the way, is clearly shown in the film, where a handful of the elite, from the so-called elite, are trying to save their lives without thinking about others, and how it naturally ended.
Obviously, in the event of a global catastrophe, even if some manage to hide in bunkers and other shelters, then they will then have to survive in a scorched planet. And it will not even be the Stone Age, when it was possible to hunt, for example, a mammoth and, having eaten its meat, make clothes from its skin.
Unfortunately, the situation in the world, in particular, the events related to the COVID-19 pandemic, have shown that humanity is not capable of uniting in the face of global danger. Therefore, if a space threat is detected, events may well develop according to a scenario close to that presented in the film. And in order to avoid this, one must not only look up in order to detect and study dangerous objects, but also forward, into the future, preparing to repel a possible space threat by the joint efforts of all mankind.
I doubted whether it was worth writing this article, realizing that this would be my next voice crying on the planet. But he decided to act on the principle of "do what you must, and come what may".
Anatoly Zaitsev - General Director of the non-profit partnership "Center for Planetary Protection"