Asteroids, if hit Earth, can bring tsunamis, shock waves and flattening winds that could be catastrophic. Recently, Earth had a close encounter with an asteroid dubbed as 2019 UJ3. Measuring somewhere in the range of 55.7ft to 124.6ft (17m to 38m) across, asteroid 2019 UJ3 came dangerously close to Earth on October 31, 2019. Fortunately, asteroid 2019 UJ3 failed to collide with our planet or else massive casualties would have occurred. Concerned about the threat possessed by the space rocks to humans, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is planning to build a new space telescope to hunt asteroids that could collide with Earth.
In September, NASA’s planetary science advisory committee backed a project named as the Near-Earth Object Surveillance Mission. According to a report of express.co.uk, the project was approved under the control of NASA’s California based Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The scientists are hoping that the new telescope will become active at some point from 2025 onwards, if the requisite funding can be acquired.
In the year 2005, US Congress has instructed NASA to identify 90 per cent of potentially dangerous asteroids larger than 450 feet long by the end of 2020. As per Space.com, 564 asteroids were discovered in 2016. Whereas, around 360 asteroids were discovered this year to late September.
Kelly Fast, who runs the agency’s Near-Earth Object Observation program, said, “The whole point is to be able to find all of these asteroids and to catalog their orbits precisely and to calculate them into the future.” “So, you know if it is going to pass 19 lunar distances away like 2006 QQ23 or if it is going to pass closer — or if it is going to pose an impact threat,” Kelly added.
It is to be noted that the space rocks approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. It is said that one day all life on the Earth will be extinct. Not only life, but the Earth will also extinct someday and an asteroid could be the possible reason. Shocked to hear that? However, a car-sized asteroid slams into the Earth's atmosphere about once in a year. On the other hand, an asteroid large enough to threaten the existence of life on Earth arrives once every few million.
As per spacetelescope.org, there are more than 700 000 asteroids that have been found in space. Asteroids are mainly found in an area called the ‘main belt’, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.