Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on TwitterWhat are the chances of as asteroid hitting Earth? Not very big, huh? It’s all the stuff of sci-fi movies, right? Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Earth is hit on a regular basis, but almost all of the asteroids burn up in the atmosphere. All that remains is a nice light show as they cross the sky. What if one large enough to survive the atmosphere hit the planet? That is what we are going to explore in this article.
An asteroid hitting Earth would release a tremendous amount of energy. As a comparison, look at the bomb dropped on Hiroshima during WWII. That atomic bomb had the energy of perhaps 20 kilotons. In 2028 the asteroid 1997 XF 11 will come very close to the Earth. It will miss unless some keyhole gravitational event causes it the change its orbit and hit the Earth. That would mean that a mile wide asteroid would be hitting the planet at 50,000 kph. It would release enough energy to equal 1 million megatons. That is 10 million times the energy of the bomb that dropped on Hiroshima. It is hard to wrap your mind around that much explosive power. Nearly all life on this planet would be gone within a year. The rest would go as the food supplies dwindled.
How will the people deal with an asteroid hitting Earth? The best way to do so is to track and predict any Near Earth Objects (NEOs). “Mankind is now technically able to predict, sometimes several decades in advance, the trajectory of Near Earth Objects (NEOs),” said Frans von der Dunk, professor of space law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “Additionally, existing space technology could deflect the vast majority of threatening asteroids”. The problems is that there is no way for the international community to decide what to do. We may be able to prevent and impact, but can’t agree that it needs to be done and who should get the honor of doing it.
As asteroid hitting Earth is a very real possibility. We are technologically advanced enough to prevent an impact, but lack the political skills to get it done. Luckily, we will have several years notice of an impact event. Hopefully that will be enough time for our governments to get their heads together and get into action.