We might believe that we are in a safe place of our solar system, with Jupiter capturing a lot of the asteroids that are passing by. But surely the gas giant cannot catch all of the ‘unwanted guests’, and we have some good examples in the history of Earth.
NASA made the frightening announcement that one huge asteroid the size of Mount Everest will zoom towards our beloved planet next month. Discovered 22 years ago, the terrible space rock is dubbed ‘52768 (1998 IR2)’, and it’s classified as a near-Earth object.
No need to worry
Fortunately, NASA announced that we shouldn’t be afraid of the scenario of the giant asteroid hitting Earth. It will pass by our planet at a pretty big distance: within 3,908,791 miles, as it will fly with the jaw-dropping speed of 19,461 miles per hour.
NEAT Project Manager Steven Pravdo of JPL stated about the asteroid:
[The asteroid’s discovery comes] on the heels of last month’s installation of new state-of-the-art computing and data analysis hardware that speeds our search for near-Earth objects
This shows that our efforts to find near-Earth objects are paying off.
A ‘global killer’ asteroid hit Earth before
Even if we are safe for now, astronomers must always be vigilant and keep an eye on the whole sky if possible. Millions of years ago, when the dinosaurs were roaming the surface of the Earth, a huge asteroid hit in an area that today is Yucatán Peninsula from Mexico. The aftermath was devastating for our planet: all life forms got extinct, either by the explosion or by the lack of sunlight. The hit generated enormous amounts of ashes risen up into the atmosphere, blocking the sunlight for hundreds of years.
The sad truth is that such a scenario can surely repeat itself someday. But hopefully, humanity will develop advanced enough tools to be able to deflect or destroy such an asteroid.