Today on Discovery Enterprise we present – Asteroids: Deadly Impact. This documentary concerns the pioneering work of Gene and Carolyn Shoemaker and how their research provided compelling evidence that asteroid and comet impacts played a major role in shaping our planet. Over the course of eons these impacts not only brought the building block of life to our planet but also played a major role in shaping and altering the evolutionary course of life on our planet.
The Shoemakers along with David Levy discovered Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 – a comet that broke apart into twenty one separate fragments culminating with twenty one impact events with Jupiter over the course of several days between July 16 and July 22, 1994. These impact events provided the first direct observational evidence of the dynamics and physics of major collisions between solar system objects. Any one of these impacts would have been sufficient in itself to wipe life off the face of our globe in a real Extinction Level Event (E.L.E).
The Shoemaker – Levy 9 impact events coincided with the twenty-fifth anniversary marking man’s first steps on the Moon and exactly 15 years later, through shear cosmic coincidence and as if to punctuate the importance of the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing as a significant event in human history, nature conspired again to offer up another doleful reminder that humanity’s destiny is indeed tied to events out in the starry ferment. On July 20th, 2009 new NASA images indicated that another large object hit Jupiter. The dark impact scar was about the size of the Pacific Ocean. The force of the explosion on Jupiter that caused it was thousands of times more powerful than the suspected comet or asteroid that exploded over the Tunguska River Valley in Siberia in June 1908. This would be over a million times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Do we need any more convincing that space exploration is vital to humanity’s long term survival?
Asteroids – Deadly Impact