Stunning Video Simulation of Asteroid Belt Discoveries

An asteroid streaked though the skies over northern Vermont a few days ago March 7, 2021. Not too terribly far my own AO here in northern New Hampshire. It was moving so fast and creating so much force that it rattled buildings on the ground.

Many reported hearing a “rumble” or “sonic boom” at the time the fireball was shooting through the sky. Some even said their houses shook during the incident.

The likely asteroid fragment traveled at 42,000 miles per hour. It began to break up when the difference in pressure created by the vacuum behind the speeding object “exceeded its structural strength,” NASA said, causing a sound wave that sensitive seismometers detected in the area.

NASA calculated the object’s size as 10 pounds and six inches in diameter.

Anyway, it reminded me of an article I posted years ago about the Asteroid Belt. I had found an incredible video illustrating the number of newly discovered asteroids over a timeline.

Having checked it these years later I see that the producer (Scott Manley) has updated a new asteroid discoveries video. He increased the timeline with more data. And he increased the video resolution choices all the way up to 8K!

So I’ve updated the rest of this post to reflect the new input…

Asteroid Belt

The following asteroid belt visualization shows just how surrounded we are on planet Earth. We are in the middle of an asteroid shooting gallery…

Most asteroids come from a region in space between the planets Mars and Jupiter called the asteroid belt. It’s a region loaded with irregular shaped objects. They range in size from dust particles all the way up to a mile or more across.

Portions of the asteroid belt are very dense with objects. Frequent collisions take place. These collisions change the orbital nature of the objects themselves (like a ping-pong gallery). Some of these result in eventual collisions with the Earth’s atmosphere as meteors or ‘shooting stars’.

What are the chances of Earth being hit by an Asteroid?

A sobering statement from the Armagh Observatory, one of the UK and Ireland’s leading scientific research establishments, reads…

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.

Video of Asteroid Discoveries from 1970 – 2015

The following video shows the discovery timeline of all known asteroids beginning in 1970 through 2015. As the video progresses, the newly discovered asteroids are briefly highlighted. As the years progress, more are found each year… Watch as the asteroids cross Earth’s orbit (the third ring out from the center) and notice the circling swarm by the end.

You may gain a new understanding of the asteroid collision risk that the Earth faces in the somewhat chaotic environment of the solar system and its asteroid belt.

Currently we have observed over half a million asteroids – objects. The discovery rates show no sign that we’re running out of undiscovered objects.

Scientific estimates suggest that there are about a billion asteroids larger than 100 meters (about the size of a football field).

Orbital elements were taken from the ‘astorb.dat’ data created by Ted Bowell at lowell.edu.

Red (Earth Orbit Crossers)
Yellow (Earth Approachers)
White (Newly discovered)
Green (all others)

The latest version of this famous asteroid belt discoveries video: 

“Asteroid Discovery” by Scott Manley
1970 – 2015

 Asteroid Belt – Edge View

Factoids:

An asteroid the size of a house would wipe out a city region like a 20 kiloton bomb.

An asteroid half a football field wide wiped out 1,200 square miles of Siberia in 1908.

One that’s a mile wide would likely end us all…

…hope you sleep well tonight (wink)

[ Read: Meteor Crater Near Winslow Arizona A Reminder Of Asteroid Impact Dangers ]

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11 Comments

  1. Space Weather.com has a chart in the middle of site which shows Near Earth Asteroids. Really cool, you can click on one and a it links to a interactive map at JPL showing the orbits and how close to Earth they are. Apophis is the latest and is the size of the Eiffel Tower. In 2029 it will be in the orbit of our satellites. Of course NASA is discovering new ones all of the time. On March 11 today there are 2037 potentially dangerous asteroids. Kula, maybe you will get your wish……

  2. Just think…….all that popcorn bought by preppers who plan on a slow descent into chaos as we watch from our well stocked perches……and an asteroid strikes…..poof…it’s over….

    1. Dennis,—Lol. I’m thinking, given all the theatrics of late, that asteroid strike may be well timed. So many popcorn worthy shenanigans, we’ll likely run out soon!

  3. The “Greenland” movie comes to mind.
    Maybe thats why “Lurch” says we will be dead in nine years. Climate change brought about by a big ass meteor they are tracking…

  4. There’s really not much we could do about a rock hurtling towards us at 42,000 mph, but I do enjoy astronomy to an extent. It’s pretty amazing, looking up. Especially on a clear night.

    If a big rock falls on your head, oh well… ;) It’s just your time I suppose.

    That said, I found the video quite interesting.

  5. Like you Ken, I have enjoyed Astronomy for many years, I find it fascinating how this little VERY little rock is actually here, still.

    And how small we really are, meaning Earth, our Solar System and even our Galaxy.
    If one really thinks on it, We all need to be grateful for what we have, and stop doing such a good job at killing ourselves off… But that’s never going to happen….

    All I can add…. Is remember the Dinosaurs… That little Asteroid was just a small one, about 1/2 mile across…..

    HAHAHA I do love the end of the Article…

    …hope you sleep well tonight (wink)”

    I know I’ll sleep just fine knowing I have enough TP to hand out when the world sees that 3 mile wide Asteroid streaking across the Sky hehehehe

    1. In the context of our solar system alone it shows how insignificant we really are, yet man in his arrogance actually believes he has influence.

  6. You only have to look at the moon and other planets and see the huge amount of craters which pepper their surfaces.

    Their are lost of craters on earth hidden in the oceans and by trees and overgrowth.

    Google maps have amateurs spotting new potential craters on the land part of the earth on every continent. Some of the craters found so far dwarf the impact zone of the KT even (Dinosaurs).

    So in reality it’s only a matter of geographic time before the big asteroid strike. Most likely a solar storm and it’s accompanying life threatening consequences will arrive far earlier than an asteroid strike.

    1. Way cool Ken, thanks.
      . . . .
      Les Francis, not really. Our atmosphere is very thick, helping meteors burn up on their way in. Most of the surface is covered in deep water. We have very active weather systems that erode craters. Earth’s crust is in constant motion, also wiping out evidence of cratering. Experts estimate there are somewhat more than 100 craters currently extant on our world. Plus some volcanic calderas.

  7. Thanks for the link, Ken. I’ve always enjoyed learning about space–it fits with my love of sci-fi. It is possible that a meteor will be the death of someone on this site, but I don’t think that a meteor will end it all for mankind. That’s because I’m a believer of the Bible and the prophecy in it. When I read Revelation, I see that there will be meteors that do horrendous damage during the end times, but even then they don’t cause the end of humanity. I have to wonder which of these meteors (or others that are not yet discovered) will be hitting during those days.

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