This area will cover relevant news of the threat to the planet from Near Earth Objects (NEOs) including concepts and designs for mitigation. All opinions are those of the author.

27 March 2007

Research on Global Asteroid Impact Damage

"Simulations show the asteroid impact locations that would produce the most casualties in red. The Pacific coast of Asia is a particularly deadly place for an asteroid to strike because of tsunamis, while a direct strike on some densely populated inland areas could also cause a heavy toll (Illustration: Nick Bailey et al/University of Southampton)"

Continued...from the article...

Now, researchers have combined impact effects with data on population density and infrastructure location in a computer model to produce the first global ranking of countries based on their vulnerability to impact damage.

Nick Bailey of the University of Southampton, UK, led the development of the new software. The team used the model to simulate thousands of impacts at points all over the Earth, building up statistics on which countries tended to be the worst affected the most often.

They considered a range of impact energies corresponding to asteroids between 100 and 500 metres across, striking with typical solar system speeds of about 20,000 kilometres per second.

The researchers also produced maps showing the worst possible places on Earth for an impact to occur. The Pacific coast of Asia shows up as an especially bad place in terms of producing casualties. Impacts in the north Atlantic Ocean, which can send tsunamis to both Europe and North America, tend to produce particularly high infrastructure losses.

The biggest source of uncertainty for the results is the possibility that a single incoming asteroid might not make it to the ground intact, fragmenting in the atmosphere instead to produce multiple, smaller impacts – a scenario not considered in the model, Bailey says.

Clark Chapman of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, says more research along these lines is needed to better understand the nature of the asteroid hazard. "We need to understand the potential risks on a country-by-country basis, since individual countries may have different vulnerabilities to this hazard as well as different capabilities to deal with it," he told New Scientist.

"China and US at highest risk of damage from asteroids"
David Shiga
27 March 2007

Link: New Scientist Article

Link: Press Release from School of Engineering Sciences, University of Southampton

Note: Apparently the author of this research, Nick Bailey, has his own blog and photoblog. My next post will have an excerpt from this blog on the 2007 PD Conference.

Link: Nick Baileys' Blog

Link: Nick Bailey's PhotoBlog

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