Bringing the Text to Life
Not too long ago, scientists watched a huge meteor crash onto the surface of Jupiter. They excitedly estimated the size of the new crater that had been formed on the planet's surface. They thrilled to the spectacle of huge billows of dust (or ice) that rose up into what passes for "atmosphere" out there. They theorized on the long-range planet-wide effects of the collision on Jupiter.
It took a while. But eventually someone asked what should have been the most obvious question about this whole phenomenon of meteors crashing into planets: "What if it had been us?"
In the last few years, astronomers have discovered and charted the trajectories of hundreds of new comets, meteors and other big, hard things hurtling through space toward our small, blue planet. So far, so good. Now there are scientists, engineers and technicians feverishly working together to try to develop a kind of "meteor defense system."
Already there are two or three different designs on the drawing board that...