Four large asteroids have flown past the earth in just one day as the Earth is experiencing an unusual cosmic bombardment.
The largest asteroid (4034 Vishnu), a half mile across, is massive…
Fortunately for us, it has passed far from the Earth’s surface and we were in no danger. The closest asteroid (EN 89), although just discovered two weeks ago was still far enough away to pose no threat.
While, the paths of many asteroids can be charted centuries ahead, many, like the recent Chelyabinsk Meteor, are not detected until they enter the atmosphere – rendering the planet potentially vulnerable to impacts millions of times more powerful than the worst nuclear explosions.
The Chelyabinsk Meteor was 55-feet across and exploded over Russia on Feb. 15 with the force of about 500 kilotons, injuring more than 1,200 people in the city of Chelyabinsk and causing extensive damage to city buildings.
Not long afterward, in the span of a week, four other asteroids buzzed the earth. The asteroids were all discovered during this same month, some only days prior.
The biggest space rock encounter was the asteroid 2013 ET which passed just inside 600,000 miles of Earth. That asteroid is about 460 feet long and approached within 2.5 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
“The scary part about this one, of course, is that it’s something we didn’t even know about,” said Patrick Paolucci, president of the online Slooh Space Camera.
One of the four, a smaller asteroid called 2013 EC20, came very close to Earth, passing 93,000 miles from the surface, less than half the distance to the moon. It was about 23 feet across.
We reside in a cosmic shooting gallery. While there is little that we can do today to prevent an asteroid on a collision course with earth, we can realize that the risk exists.
From the Armagh Observatory, one of the UK and Ireland’s leading scientific research establishments,
“Even conservative estimates would suggest that for every asteroid on a dangerous Earth-Approaching orbit there are hundreds more which have yet to be discovered. There are over 300 known objects on Earth-crossing orbits, the majority of which are potentially capable of causing death and destruction on a scale unheard of in human history.”
“It is estimated that there are perhaps 100,000 to 1,000,000 undiscovered asteroids on similar Earth crossing orbits.”
A single impact could become a ‘black swan’ event in our precarious world and cause nearly the same consequential damage as a planet killer asteroid would…