Today on Discovery Enterprise we focus our attention on those cosmic juggernauts of doom and destruction that prowl the universe and threaten humanity’s very existence – the asteroids and comets. They have left their imprint on planet Earth and the other worlds of our solar system.
Initially this debris helped to build the planets through violent collisions. It is believed by many planetary scientists that during the Earth’s fiery infancy that comets and asteroids may have even seeded Earth with water and the building blocks for life.
Since the turbulent formation of the solar system, these space rocks have continued to impact Earth.
Some of these impacts may have been so violent that they led to several mass extinction episodes in Earth’s four and a half billion year history, including one that wiped out the dinosaur. Scientists, like the late Fred Hoyle and Nalin Chandra Wickramasinghe, have proposed that asteroid and cometary dust may harbor deadly viruses that may have triggered some of our worst pandemics. The possibility of future collisions remains a legitimate threat yet despite their dangers, asteroids and comets may hold vital natural resources, which could actually preserve humankind and transform our global society into a spacefaring civilization.
The Universe – Deadly Comets and Meteors