So Uh, We May Have Slightly Underestimated the Chance of a Massive Asteroid Hitting Earth

YOLO.

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No need for alarm yet, folks but we just thought we’d let you know: your chances of being pulverized by an asteroid colliding with the Earth are greater than previously thought…like, 10 times greater.

Scientists who studied the Chelyabinsk meteor, which exploded in the skies over Russia last February, made observations of the size, trajectory and impact of the space rock and determined that it weighed 12,000 to 13,000 metric tons, nearly twice as much as earlier estimates and packing lots more punch — about 500 kilotons of TNT (the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were about 15-20 kilotons). The risk of similar flying space rocks hitting earth is increasing due to the millions of smaller sized objects roaming the solar system, according to studies released in the scholarly periodicals Nature and Science.

“The residual impact risk — from asteroids with yet-unknown orbits — is shifting to small-sized objects,” said Peter Brown, a planetary scientist at the University of Western Ontario, and an author on the papers appearing in Nature. He noted that among all the millions of near-earth asteroids out there, about 500 have been cataloged.

Rocks like the one in Chelyabinsk only hit Mother Earth every 150 years or so, but the chances of object impacts exceeding 1 kiloton of TNT may be larger, Brown says.

In the past, scientists have had trouble recording events like this, but thanks to YouTube users, they now have real time evidence of the behaviors of crashing asteroids and were able to figure out what type of impact they may have, Nature.com reported.

“Calculating meteor trajectories isn’t easy physics by any means,” said Timothy Spahr, director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Minor Planet Center. “I’m stunned at how the fairly good-quality YouTube videos have enabled such beautiful science.”

Maybe Lady Gaga can destroy some asteroids while she’s out performing in space.

[Nature]

10 comments
metallicafan1230496
metallicafan1230496

Not to sound like and idiot but "Calculating meteor trajectories isn’t easy physics by any means, I’m stunned at how the fairly good-quality YouTube videos have enabled such beautiful science.” is sarcasm comment right? 



mauricioc72
mauricioc72

One of thees days god will hit the reset button, and start allover again..

MaxJanowsky
MaxJanowsky

.... There was 100% chance that we were going to be hit by a huge space rock. The question is when, where, and how big is it...

Timeship
Timeship

"Underestimated" is a small word, because sci-fi writers and filmmakers had been widely mocked when presenting us with such grim, yet plausible scenarios ;-(

DanielKahalas
DanielKahalas

Will Congress agree to fund a system that can deflect on coming killer asteroids. Ask your Congressmen who voted No or at least refused to fund these planet saving deflection systems??

DanielKahalas
DanielKahalas

Im concerned not only by the threats from space but the threats from ecological disaster...If our Oceans die we will not be able to survive....We have abused our ecology and World including the myriad species that are affected..This shows at best horrid management with ulterior motives that go from genocidal to suicidal...

TeriWolfe
TeriWolfe

@metallicafan1230496 I didn't read it that way, but thought they were saying it's easier to analyze meteors' behavior in our atmosphere when they have reasonable-quality footage to work from instead of just mathematical principles and formulae.  Since we never know in advance when we're going to see one (yet) -- like lightning strikes -- the lucky captures by camera-phones, ground surveillance, etc., as in Chelyabinsk, are scientifically invaluable.

robertleomoore
robertleomoore

@DanielKahalas So you think that someone, somewhere is deliberately set on killing off a group of people (genocide) or the entire human species?

I agree that we have abused our environment and the health of our world, but mostly, it has been based on immediate survival or profit without a deliberate plan to kill the planet.

Ironman92
Ironman92

@DanielKahalas What is the sequitur from the risk of annihilation from space (which is beyond our control) to ecological threats on earth that are under our control?  Do you think we are overfishing the oceans for genocidal reasons?  Or was that just a scary word you decided to use.