Be asteroid aware – scientists say another Earth strike isn’t a question of if, it’s when

Space Science

MYSTERY WIRE — In the midst of a global pandemic, economic turmoil, social unrest, and plagues of locust in Asia and Africa, we probably don’t need to hear about another dramatic threat right now. But the fact is there are other threats out there.

June is “Asteroid Month.” It is designated to increase awareness of a threat that is not only real, but inevitable as potential planet-killing asteroids are lurking out there in space.

Scientists estimate at least one million space rocks are large enough to cause serious damage to human civilization, but only 20,000 or so have been identified and tracked.

Others, such as the one that entered our atmosphere and was recorded burning up and exploding over Russia in 2013 arrive here as a complete surprise.

“All you have to do is look up at the moon to see all those craters came from somewhere.” Planetary scientist, Ben McGee has also said there’s a planet-killer out there with earth’s name on it, “The earth gets hit regularly by asteroids. It’s just a matter of time.”

NASA has created the Planetary Defense Office to look for potentially deadly asteroids and the United Nations has set June 30th as “Asteroid Day” to raise global awareness of the threat.

One of the founders of Asteroid Day is astrophysicist Dr. Brian May, better known as the guitarist for the band Queen.

In early June, The largest of known asteroids flew relatively close to Earth. This asteroid, named 2002 NN4 was estimated to be 1,100 feet wide, and approximately the size of a football stadium.

It passed by Earth about 3,160,000 miles from Earth. Our moon, for example, is 238,900 miles from Earth.

Back on April 29, 2020, another asteroid named 52768 (1998 OR2) passed within 3.9 million miles of Earth, or 15 times the distance between Earth and our moon. This one was quite a bit larger, measuring 1 – 2.5 miles wide.

Business Insider put out a list of the 10 biggest asteroids that pose a threat to Earth in 2020. We’re almost halfway through 202 and so far 9 of them have passed by Earth with no noticeable effect on the planet.

The 10th asteroid still to pass near to Earth isn’t due to do so until the end of November. Asteroid 153201 (2000 W0107) should fly by Earth with about 2.7 million miles to spare.

When an asteroid does enter Earth’s atmosphere, it becomes a meteor, or more commonly called a shooting star. Just this week, on June 7, a meteor burning up as it entered the atmosphere was seen over parts of North America.

According to space.com it was seen by people in 12 states and Canada. From South Carolina to Ontario, Canada people reported the sighting to the American Meteor Society.

Even now, scientists are still discovering new information about asteroids and meteors. Just last month, scientists released new research showing the asteroid that hit Earth 66 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs, might not have had as big an effect if it hit a different angle.

The computer simulation showing the beginning and end of impacts at 30 degrees (left) and 60 degrees (right). (Image: Imperial College London

Scientists say the dinosaur killing asteroid hit Earth at around 60 degrees. Striking at this angle, the asteroid kicked up the greatest possible amount of dust, maximizing climate change, killing off the dinosaurs, as well as 75 percent of other species on Earth.

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