The end is nigh. 2012 is a banner year for doomsday prophecies, though there still seems to be debate concerning precisely how life as we know it will be snuffed out. Hollywood seems to prefer the ‘death from the skies’ scenario, with Lars von Trier’s latest film Melancholia exploring the psychological consequences of believing that another planet is on a collision course with ours. But would we know? How much warning would we receive if such a catastrophe were to occur?
There is no better source for this information than Dr. David Morrison, the founder of the field of astrobiology, or the study of life in the universe. Once the Director of Space at NASA Ames, he is best known for his work on assessing the risk of near earth objects such as asteroids and comets. As the mind behind the popular ‘Ask an Astrobiologist’ blog on NASA’s website, Dr. Morrison has all the answers.
David Morrison is the senior scientist at the NASA Astrobiology Institute, NASA Ames Research Center, where he participates in a variety of research programs in astrobiology—the study of the living universe. He is the author of more than 155 technical papers and has published a dozen books. He has been a science investigator on NASA’s Mariner, Voyager and Galileo space missions. Among many other awards, Morrison has received two NASA Outstanding Leadership medals and he was awarded the Presidential Meritorious Rank for his work as director of space at NASA Ames. Morrison is perhaps best known for his leadership since 1991 in defining the hazard of asteroid impacts and seeking ways to mitigate this risk. Asteroid 2410 Morrison is named in his honor.