In a recent press release, NASA has announced that it plans to land astronauts on an asteroid by 2025. This new development in space exploration must have been inspired, at least in part, by the hit 1998 Michael Bay film Armageddon, wherein a group of ultra-skilled oil drillers are sent to an asteroid headed for Earth with the mission of embedding an atomic weapon deep beneath its surface in order to blow it off of its course. What else could explain the fact that astronauts who’ve never quit are lining up right and left to be chosen for the expedition?

Dr. Paul Abell, NASA’s lead scientist for planetary small bodies, addressed the issue, saying, “The Armageddon film with Bruce Willis was a very fun movie, but not exactly the most scientifically accurate. This is going to be an exciting endeavor, but not quite that dramatic. It’s going to happen a little bit more slowly.” This probably went without saying, as few things in human history have been as dramatic and harrowing as Bay’s masterpiece.

Not to mention that, in a real world situation, I imagine it would be hard to find a rough neck crew of oil drillers quite as skilled as the ones that worked for Willis’s Harry Stamper. His claim that Armageddon wasn’t the most scientifically accurate film could be called into question, but probably he just meant it in the literal sense that The Rock’s portrayal of chemical weaponry is widely known as being the most painstakingly researched scientific content in film history with Armageddon coming in second.

The author of the original article doesn’t seem to be so kind to the film, however. Claire Connelly is quoted as saying, “ … the physical activity is so strenuous that NASA is considering recruiting a new generation of younger astronauts for the job, blowing yet another hole in the plot of Armageddon. Bruce Willis and his team would simply have been too old.” Clearly she hasn’t even seen the movie, and has no idea how tough and full of heart Stamper and his team were. And quite frankly, I would like to hear what Bruce Willis would have to say about her comments. I contacted his people for a response, but they declined to comment.

So, this news raises an essential question: is there an asteroid headed on a catastrophic collision course with Earth?

Not yet, but Abell says that “Very important to the general public is the aspect of planetary defense and making sure we don’t have an impact, and making sure our grandchildren or great-grandchildren don’t have to worry about an asteroid coming in and hitting the planet.” That’s true, and in addition to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, we would probably worry about our heady young daughters and their journeymen oil drilling fiancés as well.  Their lives will surely be great ones, and I don’t want to miss a thing.


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