There is a meteor out there somewhere with our name on it. And when it comes - maybe in one year, maybe in one million years - Utahns won't have to wonder what hit them.
We will know. We will know about cosmic catastrophes because the Hansen Planetarium just got a $225,496 grant from the National Science Foundation to produce a multimedia show to explain it all."This grant is twice as large as any grant we've ever received," said Doug Lowe, spokesperson for the planetarium.
He speculates that one reason the Utah planetarium was chosen to make the multimedia "Cosmic Catastrophes" is because it has a good sales record. "The last show we did for the National Science Foundation, `The Universe and Dr. Einstein,' has sold to 600 other planetariums," said Lowe.
Lowe said the show will offer plausible explanations for the way meteors and comets can dramatically change Earth's life - such as making dinosaurs disappear.
Garritt Verschuur, a Maryland astronomer and author of a book called "Cosmic Catastrophies," will write the script.
"We need to keep a lookout to see what is headed our way," Verschuur said. "Last year, there was a meteor that if there had been a six-hour time difference in when it came, it would have hit the Earth, and we didn't see it coming."
If we study this now, he believes, we could eventually learn enough to survive a catastrophe, whether it be a collision with an asteroid or the reversal of the Earth's magnetic field. "We could disperse the human race, so that there are people living on the moon if the Earth gets hit," he said.
"Cosmic Catastrophes" will open at the Hansen Planetarium in June.