Asteroids are passing near-Earth objects (NEOs), so their strikes are not unlikely. A sizable asteroid could seriously damage our planet and bring destruction that we didn’t even imagine so far. If you wonder will an asteroid hit Earth, know that scientists have made a few predictions about such a possibility. More importantly, they monitor all potentially hazardous objects for potential strikes, so we are quite safe now. But what are asteroids, and how likely are they to strike?
About 75% of asteroids consist of silicon and carbon, and the rest of their composition is iron and nickel. The largest cluster in our Solar System is between Jupiter and Mars orbits. In this belt, there are more than 200 celestial bodies that have a diameter of over 100 km, circulating in a belt, along with smaller bodies, with a diameter of about 1 km. There’s also the Kuiper asteroid belt at the edge of our Solar System. This belt is very close to Neptune, Greeks, and Trojans clusters at the Lagrange points and the Hilda family.Also read: Top 7 Work Operating Systems of 2021
While it’s possible for celestial bodies to strike our planet every hundred million years, NEOs that are 50 to 100 meters across are very likely to strike more often. They can destroy larger cities and lead to the destruction of tremendous ecological proportions. And for this reason, we need to be prepared for potential asteroid strikes.
Since it’s hard to tell when a strike might occur after a NEO has been discovered, astronomers must stand to watch on our planet at all times. However, during their first observations, scientists determined that the chances of impact increase depending on NEO trajectory. Astronomers take these types of measurements with automated Asteroid Orbit Determination (AstOD) systems. So far, the chances of a coming strike are minuscule.
So, will an asteroid hit Earth? You’re not the only one asking, as many people are concerned about a possibility of such a strike. Lucky for us, we live in a period when our Solar System is the calmest in history. Four billion years into our planet’s past, we were bombarded by huge comets and asteroids. According to scientists, these bodies brought carbon and water-rich materials to our planet so that life could kickstart after. According to Orbital Today, most objects that strike our planet today are very small, dust and boulder size, so they simply burn down in our atmosphere even when they fall.
But how long will our Earth be safe from an asteroid strike? Let’s look at our Moon for some evidence to answer this question. 108 million years in the past, a comet, or an asteroid hit the Moon and formed an 86 km wide Tycho crater, visible from our planet even now. Then, about 70% of the entire life here on Earth was wiped out 42 million years after, when a 5 – 15 km wide asteroid strike resulted in climate change at a global level. Assuming these events are connected (which is not a fact), we can count on safety from a strike for roughly 42 million years after some huge space rock strikes the Moon.
So, what is the next asteroid to hit Earth? Some scientists believe this could be Apophis. Astronomers at the Kitt Peak National Observatory near Arizona in Tucson discovered this asteroid on June 19, 2004. Dave Tholen’s and Fabrizio Bernardi’s team, together with the late Roy Tucker were on the lookout for asteroids in the low Western sky. According to past Apophis observations, there was a risk of an asteroid strike in 2029. However, many other scientists today rule out the possibility of a strike. In any case, on April 13, Friday, 2029, a 340-meter-wide Apophis passed only 31,000 km of the planet. This distance is closer than many geostationary satellites and very dangerous in case of a strike. Also, considering Apophis’ size, such a close passage will be so bright that around 2 billion people are going to witness it.
Those who live in southern Asia, Australia, Africa, or Southern Europe will have a front-row seat to see this asteroid when it’s at its brightest. As Apophis moves farther from Earth, it will become visible in the eastern part of South America. As an evening falls along the Northern American east coast, Apophis will be like a telescopic object in the sky about 15 degrees north of the Pleiades.
So, the chances of a NEO strike on our planet remain minimal. Still, you should be happy to know that scientists are constantly looking for solutions to prevent a disaster — changing NEO orbit experiments, for example, have already been conducted. This means that soon enough, we should have to fear a potential strike at all.
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