Cosmic debris such as meteors pose a significant threat — how is technology shaping up to meet it?
For the inhabitants of the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, the events of 15 February 2013 will never be forgotten. Just after 9.00am, a 20m-diameter meteorite exploded above the city with a force equivalent to 30 Hiroshima bombs. Amazingly, no one was killed. But the resulting shockwave and shower of cosmic debris wreaked havoc over a wide area.
The Chelyabinsk meteor was thought to be the largest object of its kind since the so-called 1908 Tunguska event, when an asteroid of around 40m in diameter devastated a 2,000km 2 area of remote Siberian forest.