Space experts this week warned of an Olympic swimming pool-sized space rock that could hit Earth on Valentine’s Day 2046 — but how many more are there?
The good news is that it’s not time to go to the Doomsday bunkers yet – the Valentine’s Day asteroid (2023 DW) soon got a lower chance of hitting Earth.
But there are several asteroids that could hit Earth in the coming centuries — though space agencies around the world are watching them closely.
Scroll down to read more about the six asteroids:
NASA also conducted a successful experiment in which a small spacecraft deflected a space rock by ramming into it.
The good news is that very large asteroids – the type that killed the dinosaurs – are being watched and all are deemed “extremely unlikely” to hit Earth.
NASA says more than 100 tons of rocky particles hit Earth every day — but football field-sized asteroids only hit once every 2,000 years.
Civilization-ending asteroids collide with our planet only once every few million years — and all rocks of this size are closely monitored.
So rocks that are most likely to hit Earth are likely to burn up in the atmosphere or cause minimal damage – rather than being the civilization-ending impact beloved of Hollywood movies.
Smaller stones can have an impact, though: The Chelyabinsk meteor that left 1,500 injured when it exploded over Russia in 2013 was only 60 feet in diameter.
During the 2013 Chelyabinsk event, 1,500 people were injured and 7,300 buildings were damaged by the intense overpressure caused by the shock wave at the Earth’s surface.
NASA and other space agencies keep a close eye on ‘Potentially Hazardous Asteroids’.
Asteroids are rated according to their likelihood of hitting Earth on three scales: The Torino scale, a scale of one to ten from 0 (will not hit Earth) to 10 (will hit Earth and will be catastrophic) .
At present, no asteroid ranks higher than one.
The companion Palermo Scale is used by scientists to rank risks over time — and NASA’s Sentry Risk Table classifies asteroids by their risk of hitting Earth.
The first sightings of asteroids are usually brief, and as scientists get more data, the likelihood of impact decreases.
Name: 2023 DW
Chance of impact? One in 1,584
Date of possible impact: February 14, 2046
Experts warned this week that this 160-foot asteroid could trigger an explosion similar to the Tunguska event, flattening more than 80 million trees.
But the chance of the stone hitting Earth on Valentine’s Day 2046 has since been significantly reduced.
Richard Moissl, head of the ESA’s planetary defense office, reduced the chance of the asteroid hitting Earth from one in 784 to one in 1,584.
Moissi said, “It will now drop with each sighting until the appearance reaches zero in a few days. No one need worry about this man.’
Chance of impact? One in 2,700
Date of possible impact: September 24, 2182
Bennu could hit Earth in the second half of the next century (NASA)
Bennu is slightly wider than the height of New York’s Empire State Building and was visited in 2020 by NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft, which collected material from the surface.
Bennu is more than 4.5 billion years old – and scientists estimate it has a one in 2,700 chance of hitting Earth in the late 22nd century.
University of Arizona professor Dante Lauretta previously said that a Bennu impact would release “three times more energy than any nuclear weapon detonated throughout history.”
“On impact, energy equivalent to 1,450 megatons of TNT is released.”
“For comparison, the fission bombs used in World War II each had an energy release of about 20 kilotons of TNT, and the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated, the Russian Tsar Bomba, had a yield of 50 megatons.”
Chance of impact? One in 10
Date of possible impact: September 5, 2095
Instead of reaching the ground, this asteroid is likely to explode in a fireball (stock image) experts suggest
This asteroid is classified as the most likely to hit our planet in the next century, with a one in ten chance of hitting Earth – but don’t panic, it’s pretty small.
The space rock is expected to arrive just before the end of this century, but is thought to be about 6.5 meters in diameter.
So instead of hitting the surface, it’s likely to explode in a massive blast of air in the upper atmosphere, with the only thing reaching the ground being pebbles.
Name: 1950 DA
Chance of impact? One in 34,000
Date of possible impact: March 16, 2880
This half-mile-wide asteroid has a fairly high risk of hitting Earth, with a one in 34,000 chance.
It has also been given a high risk rating due to its size – but it won’t arrive for another eight centuries.
First spotted in 1950, hence the name, it has since been sighted around the turn of the millennium.
In 2032 it will make a close pass, 6,959,357 miles away, which will allow further observations.
NASA points out that we have 35 generations to solve the problem.
NASA says, “If it is finally decided that 1950 DA should be rerouted, the hundreds of years of warning could allow for a method as simple as dusting the asteroid’s surface with chalk or charcoal, or perhaps white glass beads, or sending a ray of sunshine. sail spacecraft that ends by the collapse of its reflective sail around the asteroid.
“These things would change the reflectivity of asteroids and allow sunlight to do the job of pushing the asteroid out of the way.”
Chance of impact? N/A
Date of possible impact: 2562
The massive asteroid caused fear in 2004, but won’t be back for a while (NASA)
Toutatis will no longer be near Earth for some time (NASA)
This huge asteroid is three miles across and gave Earth a close shave in 2004, crossing the Earth’s distance from the Moon four times – and sparking a wave of false doomsday predictions.
It won’t get that close again until 2562, NASA predicts.
NASA says: ‘Because of an extensive array of optical and radar observations, Toutatis’s orbit is one of the most well-determined of any asteroid and there is no chance that this object will collide with Earth during this encounter – or any other encounter for at least five centuries. ‘