A massive killer asteroid is headed straight for New York.
An exercise set up by “planetary defence” experts is reportedly meant to gauge what would happen if authorities were unable to deflect a giant space rock hurtling toward America’s most populous city at 70,000 kilometres per hour.
The asteroid, about 100 metres to 300 metres in diameter, would explode 15km above Central Park on April 29, 2027, with 1,000 times the energy of the nuclear bomb that decimated Hiroshima, according to AFP.
In the simulation, Manhattan is destroyed, and the damage extends as far out as 70km from the epicentre, ensuring destruction across the heavily-developed metropolitan area.
The horrifying scenario is meant to provoke questions, such as: How do authorities evacuate 10 million people? How would ruined urban areas be rebuilt?
“Two months may not be enough time to really evacuate, because you’re evacuating people who are stuck, who have to rebuild their lives where they’re going. You’re going to have fleets of U-hauls,” Brandy Johnson, who plays the role of an “angry citizen” in the exercise, referring to the rental moving trucks, told AFP.
A major unknown is how Americans would actually behave in the face of this doomsday scenario.
“If you knew your home was going to be destroyed six months from now, and that you weren’t going back again, would you keep paying your mortgage?” Victoria Andrews, NASA’s deputy planetary defence officer, asked.
Fortunately, the fictional killer asteroid is “highly unlikely,” Paul Chodas, the NASA engineer who is the game’s designer, told AFP.
“But we wanted the issues to be exposed and discussed,” he added.