Interviews Movies

Rolling Stones: An Interview With IMAX Asteroid Hunters’ Phil Groves

We’ve all seen the disaster asteroid disaster movies. There’s an inescapable asteroid headed for Earth and there’s nothing we nor scientists can do to stop it. Then suddenly we cut to an average everyday American citizen working on the farm or on an oil rig who hears about the asteroid on the news. “What if we can land on the asteroid and drill it down to tiny bits or find the highest mountain on the highest cliff on the highest piece of land to escape to? He gasps and continues thinking “what about the underground tunnels I learned about during my internet search of ‘what ever happened to MapQuest?

But what if I told you there was a very realistic and scientific way to actually stop an asteroid from wiping us all out. What if science could save Earth from a cosmic threat? What if I told you this was happening right now?

Say hello to the IMAX® original film Asteroid Hunters which will transport audiences into deep space for a fascinating look at asteroids, their cosmic origins and the potential threat they pose to our world. Narrated by Daisy Ridley (Star Wars), Asteroid Hunters introduces asteroid scientists — the best line of defense between Earth and an asteroid’s destructive path – and reveals the cutting-edge tools and techniques they use to detect and track asteroids, and the technology that may one day protect our planet. The effects of an asteroid impact could be catastrophic and while the current probability of an event in our lifetime is low, the potential consequences make the study of asteroids an incredibly important area of scientific research. Witness the latest in planetary defense and how science, ingenuity and determination combine to explore the world’s most preventable natural disaster.

As we all know, 65 million years ago, a six-mile wide asteroid slammed into our planet, ending the reign of the dinosaurs. Luckily, in today’s age we have the technological advancements and scientific progress paired with the bold vision and creative thinking of the planetary defense team showcased in the film, as they work to help prevent and protect our civilization from a possible catastrophic impact from space.

Whipping around the sun at an orbital speed of 67,000 miles per hour, our planet isn’t the only object zooming through the galaxy at supersonic speeds. There are also asteroids – pieces of planets that never fully formed together due to gravitational pull – soaring through the Solar System that pose the threat of striking Earth.

With over 200 impact craters discovered throughout the world, scientists believe it’s not a matter of if, but of when a rare, large asteroid will enter our atmosphere. Through state-of-the-art CGI, the film depicts a hypothetical asteroid as never before seen.

Audiences will witness what an asteroid impact would look like on an evacuated city. The impact would cause a flash so bright it would set trees on fire miles away, shake the ground so powerfully buildings would topple, blast out a shockwave of air so intense it could knock houses off their foundations, and launch cubic miles of earth to the uppermost reaches of our atmosphere.

However, this doesn’t have to be the case as the planetary defense team has multiple methods to track asteroids and preventive measures to knock any rogue rock off course with our planet. Utilizing awe-inspiring images and heart-pounding audio for a fully immersive experience, IMAX’s Asteroid Hunters will engage audiences with the exploration of our solar system and impart how science, knowledge, and communication can be powerful enough to save the planet.

The Koalition spoke to IMAX’s Asteroid Hunters’ producer and writer Phil Groves about what’s fact and fiction, the joys of science and how everyday citizens can help protect the planet we call home (Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” not required).

“Over ten years ago, I read an article about a European Space Agency mission meant to test a basic approach of planetary defense, which never got off the ground. That it died without a whimper made it clear this subject had to be better understood by the general public.”

“The science of planetary defense is a very young one, that most people don’t know about. I felt Asteroid Hunters was needed to show that the most preventable natural disaster was in fact the worst one possible, an asteroid impact. [So] when I became aware of a scientific movement to protect Earth from an asteroid threat, I felt an IMAX documentary was the best – and only – way to tell the story.”

Along with the consultation of many scientists from around the world, the film features four scientists in the film, each representing the four key aspects of planetary defense – Detection, Assessment, Impact Mitigation, and Prevention.

“Working with our featured scientists was an absolute joy. These are completely self- actualized individuals, whose “day job” is in fact their dream job. A key component of scientific research is observation. The immersive power of IMAX and giant screen cinema turns abstract science into a universally relatable experience, which leads to understanding. IMAX is the next best thing to putting boots on an asteroid. Our portrayal of an asteroid impact could not have happened without tons of study and consultation with our science advisers. We also had computer models and simulations to help us envisage this rarest of natural events.”

“I want audiences to see Asteroid Hunters as an actionable chance to be ahead of the curve against the inevitable asteroid threat.

With all of its beauty and years of research, at the end of the day Asteroid Hunters shows audiences anyone in the world can contribute to the health and safety of the Earth and that having a fact-based view of life is how we’ll survive in the centuries.

“For the foreseeable future, Earth is humanity’s only home. Asteroid Hunters reminds us that we have the power to protect her when we work together.”

Check out our full interview below and the check out the trailer in the video above.

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