66 million years ago, an asteroid impact caused a chain reaction of occurrences that wiped out the dinosaurs and two-thirds of earth’s lives. Since the assassin asteroid hit Earth, many smaller space rocks and comets have peeled the planet.
An asteroid will come crashing into our planet and it is a matter of when, not if, experts have warned, saying there is “100 percent” chance one will hit.
Space rocks are one of humanity’s major existential threats, and while the likes of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are constantly monitoring the skies for near-Earth objects (NEO) the danger will always remain.
NASA has said that it has discovered, and was monitoring, 8,000 near-Earth asteroids which are at least 140 metres wide – which would be big enough to wipe out a small country. But the space agency believes there may be 25,000 of these within Earth’s ‘district’.
This means that more than two-thirds are yet to be found, and experts believe it is only a matter of time before an asteroid comes crashing into Earth.
Greg Leonard, a senior research specialist at the Catalina Sky Survey – a NASA funded project supported by the Near Earth Object Observation Program (NEOO) under the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) – says there is a “100 percent” chance an asteroid will hit Earth.
Mr Leonard spoke to journalist Bryan Walsh for the latter’s new book End Times, which looks at the existential threats which humanity faces:
“I know that the chances of me dying in an asteroid impact is less than dying from a lightning strike.But I also know that if we do nothing, sooner or later, there’s a one hundred percent chance that one will get us.So I feel privileged to be doing something.”
Asteroid shock: NASA warns of ‘100 percent’ chance of asteroid impact (Image: GETTY)
NASA believes there may be 25,000 of these within Earth’s ‘district’
“Given enough time, a large Near Earth Object will end up on a collision course with our planet” (Image: GETTY)
However, Mr Walsh went on to say that “intelligence-gathering alone won’t keep Earth safe.”
Mr Walsh continued:
“As Leonard said, given enough time, a large Near Earth Object will end up on a collision course with our planet.It’s happened before and it will happen again.”
While the chances of a major asteroid hitting Earth are small – NASA believes there is a one in 300,000 chance every year that a space rock which could cause regional damage will hit – the devastating prospect is not impossible.
However, there are some plans on the go which could help Earth against potential asteroid strikes.
NASA is currently studying Asteroid Bennu, where its OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft arrived last year.
Part of the reason NASA is sending the OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft there is to gather more information about the space rock which is 500 metres in length.
NASA fears that the asteroid, which has the potential to wipe out a country on Earth, could hit our planet within the next 120 years, with the next close flyby in 2135.