I have been following the latest Jupiter impact at http://spaceweather.com/. This is the second large impact during my lifetime, the first being the Comet Shoemaker-Levy impact in 1994. Both of these, had they impacted the Earth, would have been extinction events for most if not all of the multicellular life on this planet.

Here is a link to a good video on what would happen if an object that size impacted Earth:


It certainly gets some people to wax philosophical when discussing this sort of thing; others don't even want to think about it at all. I was wondering if anyone had similar experiences when discussing this event and the idea that the Earth has been and will be hit in the future by such objects. I guess it is one thing to consider an impact 65 million years ago and resultant extinction but it is quite another to consider it happening today, as if our species is somehow special and things like that are "not allowed" to happen to us.


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A couple of points to consider:

1) Jupiter is a much bigger target to hit.

2) Because of its much greater gravitational pull, it's more attractive, so it pulls more comets in.

Still, the point you're making about how vulnerable we are is a really valid one. As Robert Heinlein pointed out, we need to get at least some of our eggs out of this one basket.
It's my understanding that having a large planet like Jupiter absorbing a lot of those impactors allowed life to develop to a far greater level of complexity than it would have if we were hit more frequently than we have been. Multicellular life doesn't do so well after large-scale collisions like that.

Either we need to get out of the basket or put in a security system of some sort. I've heard it said that there are more people working the day shift at a McDonald's restaurant than there are astronomers looking for hazardous objects in the solar system. The fact that this impact event was discovered by an amateur lends a bit of credence to that.




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