Just the other week a big asteroid passed Earth. It was not as scary as it may sound – astronomers have known about the asteroid and have been able to predict its trajectory for many years.
But more often than not we don’t know which asteroid that will pass – or hit? – us next.
“The largest near-Earth asteroids (> 1 km diameter) have the potential to cause geologic and climate effects on a global scale, disrupting human civilization and perhaps even resulting in extinction of the species,” write Gerhard Drolshagen, Lindley Johnson and Romana Kofler (their text also published in the report Global Catastrophic Risks 2022).
The asteroid that passed the other week was medium-sized, about one kilometer wide, and missed Earth by a distance of 45 million kilometers – twelve times the distance to the moon. That is far away, even by astronomical standards.
When scientists looked at the asteroid, named 2005 YY128, it was classified, as Nasa defines it, as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs).
In the Global Challenges Foundation’s latest risk-report and the chapter on asteroid impact the authors write: “Smaller NEOs [near-Earth objects] in the 140-meter to 1-km size range could cause regional up to continental devastation, potentially killing hundreds of millions.”
To add, research has shown that the dinosaurs lived in prosperity, until they suddenly died out as a result of a meteorite impact, research shows. It is one of the global catastrophes that we can actually know has happened.
University of Oldenburg and the European Space Agency
NASA Planetary Defense Officer and Program Executive of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office
United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
The dinosaurs died of asteroid impact
Global Catastrophic Risks report 2022
Download the report