Do you think the Last Engineer was really trying to attack Earth? To me, the answer is not at all obvious given what Prometheus and AC have shown. We know that an unarmed human cargo ship was able to completely disable the Juggernaut propulsion system by ramming it. From this we can see that although Engineer technology is clearly far ahead of Earth's, it isn't so far ahead that it is immune to Earth weapons.
Now, humanity in the Alien universe is spreading rapidly across the galaxy. This probably means that there are human colonies and military facilities throughout the Solar System. Now, given that there is just one Juggernaut for the entirety of humanity's armed forces to contend with, I find it overwhelmingly likely that the Juggernaut probably wouldn't even make it into the inner Solar System before being rendered unable to steer by kinetic missile attack. If it does somehow evade Earth's defenses it will definitely be shot down in the process of hovering and dropping its payload as seen in Covenant.
How much damage would that one payload do? In Covenant, we see the equivalent of a tiny Earth city destroyed. Most of the people are simply killed and not turned into xenos or xeno-like creatures. Let's go with the absolute best-case scenario from the Engineer's point of view and say that somehow due to differences among humanoids all the people on Earth who ingest the Goo are turned into such creatures. What chance does this city-sized hive have against all the armed forces of Earth's countries and companies? None.
So the aftermath would be one small city and maybe the surrounding area destroyed. In return, humanity would be given access to Engineer technology, the Black Goo and xeno-type biology, meaning that Earth's scientists can analyze the material which makes up xenomorph anatomy and figure out how to copy it so as not to be affected by the acid blood. People have also been made aware that there is or at least was a far more advanced civilization with hostile intent, making it far more likely that humans will cooperate to defend themselves.
Now, Engineers are portrayed as being far more advanced and intelligent than people. Surely the Last Engineer would figure out the above and realize the hopelessness of trying to take on Earth by himself, whatever the original mission of the LV-223 base 2000 years prior before its meltdown was. Therefore, I think it far more likely that he was simply trying to kill the Prometheus crew so as to prevent them from taking their findings back to Earth and then trying to fly off to some other Engineer outpost to get his bearings.
And we still don't really know how fast these juggernauts can fly...It's 40 Light Years to Earth....It took the Prometheus two+ years to reach LV223! If the juggernaut is the same or slower! It'll be a Long wait...
How long did it take David and Shaw to reach planet 4? Maybe that would be the top speed.
Information is passed much faster than light speed.....So an incoming enemy/unknown starship would be well prepared for.
"Oort cloud sensors are monitoring an incoming vessel. Unknown type. It will arrive in 8 hours.....So we can keep our tee time."
The Engineer plotted a course for Earth before take off - you can see this in the map room. After inflicting a good deal of violence on the crew of the Prometheus. So, it seems to me that he was hell bent on the destruction of Earth.
I just can't imagine the Engineer leaving the humans on LV223 alive and the Prometheus intact? To further defile the temples.
Sublight communications could warn Earth far in advance or the Prometheus is faster and arrive ahead of the engineer.
It was only after the Engineer crashed did he learn about humanity(when he boarded the lifeboat).
I think the Engineers were going to bombard Earth with the pathogen but went to sleep for whatever reason. It wasted no time setting a course to Earth with the pathogen payload.
The ease of destroying the Juggernaut is interesting. Perhaps they didn't expect such primitive tactics from a supposedly inferior creation. Maybe they didn't feel a need to have a defense at all. Arrogance?
Too bad the Juggernaut didn't have some sort of shield like Planet 4 had. Oops!
@MonsterZero, it depends on the Engineer's priority. If it's still his mission to destroy Earth after he was rudely awakened he might not care anything about other matters.
@dk, good point about the vulnerability of the Juggernaut. It doesn't seem that well protected. You're probably right; the Engineers are likely so arrogant that they don't expect their ships to be attacked.
The odd thing is that Dr. Shaw's Juggernaut blasted out of the thick atmosphere at (what I guess) would be several kilometres per second. That at least would need some kind of shielding, as the aerodynamic forces would be tremendous. Being generous, you could imagine that the Juggernaut had a forward-projecting shield, good for atmospheric protection and general travel, but the shield was ineffective at the rear of the ship (where the thrusters would be active).
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