No one even knew about this asteroid until one year ago when a Spanish dentist amateur astronomer randomly discovered it. Today, it passes the closest distance to earth ever recorded in modern history, 5,000 miles within our satellite belt. According to astronomers including Rusty Schweickart, former astronaut and research scientist, only 1% of asteroids have been discovered, leaving 99% still unknown. Repeat… 99% still unknown.
Just this morning an asteroid streaked across the sky and exploded in a lake near Chebarkul, Russia injuring 1,000 people, tearing apart buildings and blowing out windows.
A large asteroid made a direct hit during 1908 in Tunguska, Siberia where a thousand miles of trees and wildlife were decimated from the impact. Imagine if the bulls-eye had been near a major population center, or if it happened today? To put it into perspective, an asteroid of several miles across would create the same kind of disaster that wiped out the dinosaurs, one that could very well wipe out human civilization.
So, what if today’s asteroid 2012 D14 were on a crash course with Earth instead of grazing the planet at 17,000 miles?
It measures 150 feet across and is traveling at 8 miles per second. According to impact calculators at Purdue University, a worst case scenario impact would result in the equivalent of an 8 Megaton TNT blast. The crater diameter would be 1 mile across, more than 1000 feet deep, produce a 5.2 magnitude earthquake, produce an air blast of 60 mph at 10 miles away, and would devastate a city if it were to impact nearby. If it landed in the ocean, 10 miles offshore, it would produce a tsunami of 60 feet in height.
Today’s asteroid is not anywhere close to a planet killer, but it does go to show the risks and dangers that we face, many of them unknown.
Russian meteor impact this morning…
Liva NASA JPL stream of Asteroid 2012 D14, due to flyby at 2:25PM Eastern time today…