Some scientists say that it’s a waiting game until the next asteroid hits Earth. Asteroids, comets, and meteoroids are always buzzing around the solar system and flyby our planet, some coming as close as a few million miles from impact.
Recent near miss
As evidenced with the asteroid designated 2006 QQ23, such an object has a decent chance to impact Earth sooner or later in one of its circulating trajectories. This particular asteroid flew by the planet on Saturday and missed it by 4.6 million miles. Which may seem like a lot, but in terms of distances in space, it’s like throwing a stick.
Asteroid 2006 QQ23 is traveling at the impressive speed of 10.400 miles per hour and is larger than most landmarks on Earth. Such as the Empire State building or the Eiffel Tower. The rock has been discovered in mid-August by astronomers from Siding Spring Observatory in Australia.
What if the asteroid hit?
An impact from an asteroid of that size would not have extinction event consequences. But it would be enough to completely flatten a city, killing millions and negatively affecting regional geology that could have unforeseen effects. It has been said that such a blast would be 500 times more powerful than the Hiroshima nuclear bomb.
Mass extinction event
The best-known asteroid that wit Earth is the one the supposedly wiped out the dinosaurs in the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago. The massive asteroid was around 30 miles in diameter and landed in the Yucatan Peninsula, off the coast of modern-day Mexico. It left behind a crater that is 93 miles in diameter. This impact caused a mass extinction event that saw 75 percent of plant and animal life die out.
Safe for the next century
NASA is currently monitoring all Near-Earth objects that are larger than 1 kilometer. Based on current calculations there are over 20.000 such objects orbiting around the solar system but none will hit the planet in the next 100 years. This period may seem like a lot right now, but some experts say that the next impact will be a matter of when not if.
As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.