Asteroid (Youtube screenshot - Photo Credit: Mr Scientific)
Do you know that Earth has recently escaped a cataclysmic “tragedy” in July this year when Asteroid 2019 OK zip past the planet? You might not. Earth had close encounter with asteroid 2019 OK on July 25, fortunately the giant space rock did not collide with our planet, A 328-feet-wide asteroid 2019 OK zoom past the Earth on 6:52 am (IST) at a speed of nearly 55,000 miles (88,500 kilometres) per hour. The closest asteroid 2019 OK came to Earth was just under 45,000 miles (72,500 km). Well, you can say it was a safe distance, but still much less than the distance between the Earth and Moon. And now, a scientist has warned that the space rocks, even bigger than asteroid 2019 OK, pose greater threat to the Earth and to the human life as well.
“If the asteroid had hit Earth, a crater measuring 2km to 4km (1.2 to 2.5 miles) in diameter and 100m (328ft) deep would have appeared,” Dr Anna Losiak from the Polish Academy of Sciences was quoted as saying by the Polish Press Agency (PAP).
It is worth mentioning here that Dr Anna Losiak is an associate research fellow at the University of Exeter and studies impact craters to better understand asteroid dangers.
She said, “I want to understand, how dangerous these phenomena are. So if we know, for example, an asteroid measuring 50m in diameter will hit a specific spot on Earth in three days, then we should know if we need to evacuate people from a five kilometre (three miles), 100km (62 miles) or 10,000km (6,200 miles) radius. It is crucial to avoid a tragedy.” “Most witnesses would have seen it as very strong winds breaking trees and blowing out windows,” she added.
The asteroid expert further mentioned about an asteroid that hit the Earth (Yucatan Peninsula or you can call it as Mexico) approximately 65 million years ago.
She said, “It was a very unfortunate event for the dinosaurs. The rocks the asteroid landed on released a lot of carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide, which caused large climactic disturbances on the planet. A nuclear winter started.”
However, NASA knows of no asteroid or comet that could cause this level of destruction in the foreseeable future.
NASA said, “No human in the past 1,000 years is known to have been killed by a meteorite or by the effects of one impacting. An individual's chance of being killed by a meteorite is small, but the risk increases with the size of the impacting comet or asteroid, with the greatest risk associated with global catastrophes resulting from impacts of objects larger than one kilometre.”
“NASA knows of no asteroid or comet currently on a collision course with Earth, so the probability of a major collision is quite small. In fact, as best as we can tell, no large object is likely to strike the Earth any time in the next several hundred years,” the US space agency added.
Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Although asteroids orbit the Sun like planets, they are much smaller than planets. You must be aware that asteroids, if hit Earth, can bring massive destruction to our planet and also to human life. The effects of an asteroid strike—tsunamis, shock waves, and flattening winds, could be catastrophic. Asteroids can approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. In recent days, we all have heard about many asteroids including 2019 NN3, 2019 MB4, 2019 MT2, 2006 QV89, 2016 NO56M, RF12 and others going past through our planet. Although these asteroids were really close to Earth, but we were really fortunate.
According to a report of spacetelescope.org, there are more than 7 lakh asteroids that have been found in space. It further added that asteroids are mainly found in an area called the ‘main belt’, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.