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Earth in danger of an asteroid strike: Experts

Last week an asteroid named (441987) 2010 NY65 was reported to fly past Earth.

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Ahead of Asteroid Day on June 30, astrophysicists are reportedly warning that Earth could be hit with an asteroid strike. Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer at the Queen s University Belfast Astrophysics Research Centre highlighted the threat ahead of Asteroid Day, according to Phys.org. Fitzsimmons reportedly warned that it is a case of when, rather than if, an asteroid collision will happen. Having said that, there have been many reports online on how Earth is likely to hit by an asteroid very soon, some even reported it being as soon as last weekend, but it may not be true. Also Read - Could SpaceX be nearing its end? Elon Musk doesn’t deny the possibility

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The panic around the asteroid strike hit internet last week, when an asteroid named (441987) 2010 NY65 was reported to fly past Earth last Saturday, which NASA had later confirmed would not affect the Earth, and would pass by at a safe distance. The skyscraper-sized rock was classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid by NASA but posed no immediate danger. The asteroid approached within just eight lunar distances, or eight-times the distance between the center of the Earth and the center of the Moon, according to NASA. However, NASA says that the asteroid will continue to make yearly close approaches to Earth through 2022, with its closest flyby of 7.3 lunar distances occurring next year. Also Read - Jeff Bezos travels to space today: How to watch Blue Origin rocket launch online

“Astronomers find Near-Earth Asteroids every day and most are harmless, said Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer at the Queen s University Belfast Astrophysics Research Centre, according to Phys.org. But it is still possible the next Tunguska would take us by surprise, and although we are much better at finding larger asteroids, that does us no good if we are not prepared to do something about them.” ALSO READ: Hacking group believes NASA will announce discovery of aliens

109 years ago on June 30, the Tunguska event in Siberia had occurred, which was the largest-ever recorded explosion of a space object plunging to Earth. The blast, which was later attributed to a comet or asteroid fragment, is generally estimated to have been about 10 megatons. No injuries were reported, but some 80 million trees over 830 square miles were levelled.

However, just to put this expected asteroid strike in perspective, another study of Earth s impact craters found asteroids tended to hit roughly every 26 million years, adding to evidence that mass extinction events could be driven by a dim companion star to our sun named after the Greek goddess of revenge, Nemesis. Under this theory, the next apocalyptic asteroid will hit Earth in 10 million years. ALSO READ: NASA s Hubble space telescope detects disk-shaped galaxy

Professor Alan Fitzsimmons also acknowledged that space scientists have made a lot of advances in locating asteroids. “It is important to know that scientists and engineers have made great strides in detecting Near-Earth Asteroids and understanding the threat posed by them, he said. Over 1,800 potentially hazardous objects have been discovered so far, but there are many more waiting to be found.

In line with the advancements, last year NASA opened a new office to track asteroids and comets that come too close to Earth. The Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) formalizes the agency s existing program for detecting and tracking near-Earth Objects, known as NEOs. The office is located within NASA s Planetary Science Division, which is in the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, and works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal agencies and departments. ALSO READ: NASA s first mission to Sun is now called Parker Solar Probe

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  • Published Date: June 26, 2017 3:29 PM IST
  • Updated Date: June 26, 2017 4:12 PM IST



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