The possibility of a comet or asteroid hitting Earth and wreaking havoc has fascinated people ever since they began observing space. Scientists are preparing for this in official business games. This year, five asteroids will race past us – at a safe distance.
With a probability of 96 percent, a 200 meter large asteroid will hit Earth in July 2027. The impact in China, Korea or Japan could kill millions of people – but don’t worry: This is a completely made-up scenario, which was only used for a simulation game. In fact, scientists are now giving the all-clear. Although they have identified 30,000 potentially near-Earth asteroids (near-earth object, Neo), they do not expect an impact in a reasonable period of time.
The cosmic hit in 2027 was a simulation at a planetary defense conference held in Tokyo five years ago. Space experts from many countries had practiced the emergency at the time. At a simulated press conference, the public was informed of the impending impact that was to happen a few years later.
In order to avert it, a space probe should start and photograph the dangerous asteroid up close. In addition, two missions were planned to ram the object and slightly change its orbit. It could at least be achieved, so it is hoped, that the asteroid would impact either in the vastness of Russia or in the middle of the Pacific. With appropriate evacuations, at least the number of victims would be significantly limited. At the time, the International Asteroid Warning Network played through this scenario in order to know what to do when, should the worst come to the worst. Luckily, all the documents said in bold red letters: “EXERCISE ONLY! – JUST EXERCISE!”
According to current knowledge, such exercises are superfluous for the time being. The US magazine Newsweek has now compiled the latest state of asteroid research. After that there are plenty of near-Earth objects, but none of them pass our planet at a distance where it could be dangerous.
The term “near-Earth object” refers to any cosmic body whose orbit is astronomically close to Earth. The vast majority of NEOs are asteroids – most of which are small – but more than a hundred larger comets also fall into this category.
Some NEOs are classified as “potentially dangerous” – a designation for objects with an orbit within 0.05 astronomical units (approximately 7.4 million kilometers) of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun and estimated to be more than 140 meters in have diameter.
None of these potentially dangerous objects known to scientists pose a realistic risk of colliding with Earth in the foreseeable future. The designation simply means that the movement of these objects over millions of years can develop into an orbit that has a chance of hitting Earth after all.
Potentially dangerous objects, in the event of an impact, are large enough to cause significant damage to our planet. According to the database (CNEOS), five of them are at least a little closer to Earth this year:
This is possibly the largest asteroid that will approach Earth this year. The CNEOS database states that it is almost 2000 meters in diameter, making it more than twice the size of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The asteroid will come within 5.2 million kilometers of Earth on November 2nd.
This asteroid measures up to 1400 meters in diameter, meaning it could be slightly larger than Venezuela’s Angel Falls – the world’s largest uninterrupted waterfall. This object is scheduled to fly past us on February 16 and come within a minimum distance of about 4.5 million kilometers.
The CNEOS database indicates that 436774 has a maximum and 1200 meters in diameter. This NEO is scheduled to sneak up on April 13, at which point it could be as close as 4.7 million kilometers to our planet.
The researchers also calculate the diameter of this asteroid with a maximum of 1200 meters. It will hurtle past Earth on December 6 and will be about 5.5 million kilometers from us.
The data shows that 349507 also reaches a maximum diameter of 1200 meters. This space rock will be closest to Earth on October 3, but don’t worry, it’ll be a safe 6.3 million kilometers between it and us.