Book Title: Meteor Impact
Part of Series: Integra Series – see
Author: Nicole Stuart
Number of words (approximately): 46 229
Star Rating (of five): Four
Summary: An amateur astronomer discovers a horde of very large meteors heading for Earth. A single impact could extinguish all life, as happened with the dinosaurs sixty-five million years ago. He, with his helper, have to overcome official obstruction to set in motion a plan to save the world.
- “The objects will be coming in at a slight angle to the plane of our orbit around the sun. They will pass over Jupiter, which will deflect their course slightly, then over the sun, which will deflect their course even more, bringing them onto a course about halfway between the Earth and the moon. Once they come into the gross gravitational attraction of the Earth, the course will swing across that of the Earth, and they will effectively run into the Earth from behind. That will reduce the relative speed by a few thousand miles per hour, but that won’t be enough to soften the impact. I believe that there is enough kinetic energy contained in each of the big objects to destroy the Earth.” Andie spoke dispassionately. The threat of annihilation within a half-year had still not really sunk in. It was still an exercise in mathematics. “Unfortunately, we seem to be in the dead centre of the herd’s spread!”
“Is there anything that can happen to change the course of the objects?” asked Jeff. “Are there any variables we’ve left out of our thinking?”
“You must understand that what I’m telling you is very preliminary. It will need quite a bit more data before I can confirm it with confidence, so there’s always the hope that other factors will intervene to change the predictions. There may be more objects that are too small to have been seen yet, and it’s possible that there is a range of density between the objects, which is likely if they come from different sources as I suspect,” replied Andie, thinking through her assumptions. The infuriating thing about astronomy was that it applied very precise mathematics to some very imprecise assumptions, used guesses rather than measurements. The process was iterative, with a set of observations forming the basis of calculations that led to more precise observations, and these led to more precise calculations, until the observations matched exactly the mathematical predictions. Unfortunately, this process took time, sometimes years and sometimes decades. They just did not have that length of time! “If there are other objects, the mutual gravitational attraction may have sufficient effect to change the course or the speed of the objects, but I think that is unlikely, not within the time frame we are faced with. These objects seem to have been going for centuries, and any variance in the course would probably have worked its effect by now. They’ve probably been travelling for hundreds of millions of miles, probably even billions of miles! That’s a pity! A change of even one per cent in either speed or course would be enough to allow the objects to sweep harmlessly through the Solar System, harmlessly for us, that is! They might still impact one of the other planets as they go through. Unfortunately, I estimate the margin of error in my calculations, at this stage, to be less than five per cent.” Andie was quite despondent. She would desperately like to have made an error in her calculations to give them that one per cent hope of life!
“That may be the answer!” exulted Jeff. “If we could induce a change in the speed or the course by a couple of per cent, the objects would miss us!”
“How would we do that?” asked Andie, her mind racing.
“Perhaps we could explode a series of nuclear weapons along one side of the course of the objects, timed to boost or retard their speed and induce a slight change in their course! You need to figure out which position would be the most favourable, and their timing, to get the greatest effect. We need to use the pressure wave of the explosions, as well as any possible heating effect we can get to gasify the objects on one side. The escape of gases would act like a rocket motor. The effect may be small, but if we time a series of explosions to extend the period of their action, we may be able to get enough movement early on to move them away from us. We would have to be careful not to break the objects up into a large bunch of smaller big objects, each acting independently!”
“That certainly has some chance of success!” Andie’s mind was working at full speed again. “Perhaps we can concentrate on moving a few of the leaders of the bigger objects, particularly those that are on the side of the herd that has the best chance of impacting Earth. If we could do that, it might induce their gravitational effect on the remaining objects to achieve the desired effect! That might also benefit us by reducing the width of the spread of the objects, so it will minimise the cone of danger.”-
- Most of the scientists who were not engaged in watching the event through telescopes and other instruments gathered for the spectacle. It was preceded by the sight of the first speck crawling across the lighter backdrop of the planet. Its progress seemed slow against the huge size of the planet, then it turned slowly towards a rendezvous with the planet, drawn into a terminally curving course by the irresistible power of the huge gravitational force, increasing as the distance from the planet diminished. The asteroid disappeared briefly into the cloud cover, its passage shown by a brilliant light as it heated in the passage through the tenuous layer of gas, only to throw up a huge fountain into the atmosphere a few minutes later as it exploded on the surface of the planet. As they watched, the awesome fountain made a bulge in the atmosphere, rising kilometres above it. The fountain grew for some thirty minutes, then gradually subsided, leaving behind a swirling darker mass on the cloud cover of the planet. The following asteroid impacted a couple of minutes after the first fountain reached its maximum, with the same results. The further asteroids followed over the next hours. Those present in the auditorium waited silently, watching until they had seen enough. Then one of the scientists turned to Jeff and Andie in the darkened room.
“Thanks, the two of you.” The words were spoken quietly, but their effect on the audience was substantial. The people recovered from the effect of the spectacle, slowly regaining their awareness of where they were, after witnessing a series of explosions, each of which would surely have destroyed all life on Earth. -
Structure: The book complies well with the recommendations for eBook structure. Our review was carried out on the Epub format, and we detected no formatting problems.
Content: Meteor Impact deals with the detection of a ‘herd’ of huge objects hurtling towards the earth from deep space. The impact of any one of them could well spell the end for Humanity, as the last one, 65 000 000 years ago, did for the dinosaurs. The problems created by these objects are well described, as are the solutions found. The book is exciting and imaginative, fiction of the real kind.
Reviewer’s Comments: I enjoyed reading this book. The situations described generated many thoughts in my mind on how we could handle such an event if it were to happen in real life, as it certainly could. The characters are real people, and the situations described equally possible. Reading this book could well give you a new perspective on a situation that presently presents a real, if not yet actualized, threat. I recommend it highly.