The as­Ter­oid im­pacT sur­vival guide

The fol­low­ing guide is adapted from the Com­mit­tee to Re­view Near-Earth Ob­ject (as­ter­oid and comet) Sur­veys and Haz­ard Mit­i­ga­tion Strate­gies emer­gency man­age­ment ap­proach:

Guru Magazine - - LIFE -

a loW-prob­a­bil­iTy im­pacT is re­porTed.

Gov­ern­ments and safety or­gan­i­sa­tions should an­nounce the low prob­a­bil­ity of an im­pact to avoid wide­spread panic.

a very small as­Ter­oid (1-10m di­am­e­Ter) is on im­pacT Tra­jec­Tory. im­mi­nenT im­pacT!

It is prob­a­bly harm­less so you needn’t to do much. Any­one near ‘ground zero’ should stay in­doors and away from win­dows.

a small as­Ter­oid (10-25m) is on col­li­sion course. im­pacT in days To Weeks.

Such an event may oc­cur dur­ing this cen­tury and the im­pact could cause sig­nif­i­cant, and po­ten­tially lethal, dam­age to a zone of about 10 km wide. Evac­u­a­tion of the pre­dicted im­pact site is es­sen­tial and the emer­gency ser­vices should be on standby.

a mod­esT-sized as­Ter­oid (10-100m) im­pacTs. im­mi­nenT im­pacT!

This sce­nario is rather un­likely to oc­cur with­out any warn­ing. It could re­sult in se­vere lo­cal con­seTuences: build­ing col­lapse, fires, in­juries and death at dis­tances up to 50 km away from im­pact site. Any­one liv­ing near ‘ground zero’ should im­me­di­ately evac­u­ate as soon as the news gets out. The emer­gency ser­vices will also need to launch a re­sponse-and-re­cov­ery plan for those caught in the blast for at least 72 hours af­ter im­pact.

an un­likely, buT pos­si­ble, im­pacT of a dan­ger­ously large as­Ter­oid (30 To 100m) is re­porTed. Warn­ing Time: over Ten years.

If there is am­ple warn­ing, there is no need for im­me­di­ate panic. Should the prob­a­bil­ity of the im­pact in­crease and ‘ground zero’ be iden­ti­fied, then prepa­ra­tions to min­imise losses to life and prop­erty should be made. If or­bit-change mea­sures fail, then you should get ready for the worst by pre­par­ing shel­ter, med­i­cal care, food, and stock­pil­ing wa­ter and other pro­vi­sions. Ad­vanced plan­ning for com­mu­ni­ca­tions and evac­u­a­tion is es­sen­tial.

a dan­ger­ously large as­Ter­oid (100 To many hun­dreds of me­Ters di­am­e­Ter) is in­bound. im­mi­nenT im­pacT!

The na­ture of such a disas­ter would be sim­i­lar to large nat­u­ral dis­as­ters such as the 2004 tsunami. Sim­i­lar disas­ter re­sponse strate­gies would be re­quired. Gov­ern­ments and in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions need to care­fully com­mu­ni­cate the risks; mis­un­der­stand­ings based on pop­u­lar cul­ture may have neg­a­tive reper­cus­sions – for ex­am­ple, the emer­gency ser­vices could get in­spired by the movie Deep Im­pact and get a lit­tle over-ex­cited...

a civil­i­sa­Tion and species de­sTroy­ing as­Ter­oid (greaTer Than 1km di­am­e­Ter) is due To hiT in The nexT cou­ple of decades

Your best chance of sur­vival is to hope that the or­bital change strate­gies work. Con­se­quences of the im­pact could in­clude col­lapse of the en­tire so­cial struc­ture and mass fa­tal­i­ties. Or even worse. At­tempts should be made to warn and in­form; store pro­vi­sions for med­i­cal care, food, wa­ter and shel­ter; and for in­ter­na­tional bod­ies to im­prove global in­fra­struc­ture for fi­nan­cial, elec­tronic and law-en­force­ment.

a civil­i­sa­Tion de­sTroy­ing as­Ter­oid (greaTer Than 1km). im­mi­nenT im­pacT!

Don’t worry. If at­tempts to knock the as­ter­oid off track haven’t worked then you don’t stand a chance. Start do­ing all those things on your ‘bucket list’. And start pray­ing.


Chap­man, C. R., & Mor­ri­son, D. (1994). ‘Im­pacts on the Earth by as­teroids and comets: as­sess­ing the haz­ard’. Na­ture, 367(6458), 33-40. Com­mit­tee to Re­view Near-Earth Ob­ject Sur­veys and Haz­ard Mit­i­ga­tion Strate­gies. (2010). De­fend­ing Planet Earth: Near-Earth Ob­ject Sur­veys and Haz­ard Mit­i­ga­tion Strate­gies: Fi­nal Re­port. National Academies Press. Mum­frey, W. H. (2010). The Of­fi­cial Un­der­ground 2012 Dooms­day Sur­vival Hand­book. HOW Books.

Fur­ther read­ing:

The Earth Im­pact Ef­fects Pro­gram NASA As­ter­oid and Comet Watch Guardian Data Blog map of ev­ery known me­te­orite fall on earth, back to 2300 BC Wik­i­How in­struc­tions to Sur­vive a Su­per Comet Hit­ting Earth Neil Degrasse Tyson, ex­press­ing fears about the lack of pub­lic ex­pen­di­ture on as­ter­oid de­fence tech­nol­ogy (VIDEO) Wikipedia: The Deep Im­pact mis­sion NASA: The Deep Im­pact mis­sion

Becky Martin worked as an emer­gency plan­ner be­fore de­cid­ing to live dan­ger­ously and do a PhD in disas­ter man­age­ment at the Univer­sity of Southamp­ton in­stead. Oc­ca­sion­ally she stops con­tem­plat­ing po­ten­tial im­pend­ing doom and bakes some cup­cakes. Tweet all your catas­tro­phe ques­tions to her @ Calamity Cake.

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