Dear MEL Topic Readers,
International Asteroid Day: Are we ready if an asteroid strikes Earth?
Have asteroids struck our planet? Yes, many times. Most recently, a 20-meter near-earth object, or NEO, entered the atmosphere and exploded over Russia in 2013 and caused substantial damages to a town called Chelyabinsk. The light from the meteor was brighter than the Sun and the energy released by the impact was about 30 times of that of the atomic bomb detonated at Hiroshima. And of course, there was an asteroid of the size of a mountain that hit earth 66 million years ago wiped out 80% of life on earth including most of the dinosaurs.
So, when will the next impact like that occur? Fortunately, there aren’t any known or detected NEOs that could post an immediate, significant threat as of now. Though a number of asteroids hit our planet every day, most of them are so small that they burn up in the atmosphere. But there are more and larger asteroids that could cause a significant damage or even catastrophe to the planet. NASA has been working with other space agencies of the world trying to detect and predict any sign of life-threatening collision. They are hoping to give a pre-warning of such event as early as 10 years before the impact.
Is a 10-year notice too short or too long? What about announcing a year before next election?
Enjoy reading and learn about space objects near Earth.