The six asteroids that are on course to crash into Earth
This week, space experts warned that a space rock the size of an Olympic swimming pool could hit Earth on Valentine’s Day, 2046. But how many more are there?
The good news is that it’s not time to head to the Doomsday bunkers yet. The chances of the Valentine’s Day asteroid (2023 DW) hitting Earth quickly decreased.
But a few asteroids could hit Earth in the next few hundred years or so. Space agencies worldwide are keeping a close eye on these asteroids.
The good news is that very large asteroids, like the ones that killed the dinosaurs, are being watched, and all have been deemed “extremely unlikely” to hit Earth.
NASA says that more than 100 tonnes of rocks hit Earth every day, but asteroids the size of a football field only hit once every 2,000 years.
Only once every few million years does an asteroid hit Earth and kill everyone; any rocks this size are being closely watched.
The rocks that are most likely to hit Earth will probably burn up in the atmosphere or do very little damage, unlike in Hollywood movies, where they destroy everything.
Smaller rocks can still hurt people, however. The Chelyabinsk meteor that exploded over Russia in 2013 and injured 1,500 people was only 59 feet across.
During the Chelyabinsk event in 2013, 7,300 buildings were damaged, and 1,500 people were hurt because of the strong overpressure caused by the shockwave at the Earth’s surface.
“Potentially Hazardous Asteroids” are closely watched by NASA and other space agencies.
Three scales show how likely it is that an asteroid will hit Earth. The Torino Scale is a one-to-ten chart that goes from 0 (won’t hit Earth) to 10 (will hit Earth) (will hit Earth, and will be catastrophic).
At the moment, there is no asteroid higher than number one.
Scientists use the related Palermo Scale to rank risk over extended periods. NASA’s Sentry Risk table ranks asteroids by how likely they will hit Earth.
The first time scientists see an asteroid, they usually only see it briefly. As they learn more, the chance it will hit Earth decreases.
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