Science Fact or Science Fiction? ‘Salvation’ and its Asteroid Theories Prove the Former

Santiago Cabrera solving problems in Salvation

Oh, what the hell. We may as well run up those credit card bills. In the new CBS end-of-days saga Salvation, there’s a four-mile-wide asteroid heading directly toward Earth, and it’s a guaranteed planet killer. Worse yet, the U.S. Department of Defense is trying to keep it a secret. This big-budget summer series—starring Ian Anthony Dale (Hawaii Five-0), Charlie Rowe (Red Band Society), Santiago Cabrera (Heroes) and Jennifer Finnigan (Tyrant)—is the scariest kind of science fiction, because it’s actually science fact.

“Our planet has already experienced at least five mass extinction events, and there’s no reason to think it can’t happen again,” notes famed astronomer Phil Plait (Discovery’s Bad Universe), who serves as Salvation’s asteroid consultant. “Any sweaty, fevered dream you’ve ever had about the apocalypse doesn’t even come close to what might truly await us.” And sorry, Armageddon fans, nuking an approaching asteroid simply isn’t an option. “It would only create a whole lot of smaller asteroids—now radioactive—that would still be headed toward Earth,” Plait says. “Not to get too technical, but that would really suck.”

Could our government really keep such a thing hush-hush? “That’s where Salvation differs from reality for the sake of good storytelling,” Plait admits. “There are many scientists working outside of NASA—in the U.S. and around the world—who would be able to spot an asteroid coming our way. Take it from me, the problem is not getting us astronomers to talk. The problem is getting us to shut up.”

Salvation, Series Premiere, Wednesday, July 12, 9/8c, CBS