Asteroids have crashed on Earth many times in the past. They have crashed onto our moon too. However, these asteroid strikes happened long ago when humanity was not ruling the planet. Now, people cover every nook and cranny of the Earth and any asteroid crash risks killing millions of people and devastating large parts of the Earth. Should you be worried about the ‘potentially hazardous’ asteroid hitting Earth today? If an asteroid does come calling and it is likely to crash against the Earth, will you find out in time? Here is what will actually happen.
Almost every other day, NASA warns about the upcoming asteroids that are about to make their closest approach towards Earth. Lindley Johnson, NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer told Mashable some shocking facts about what will happen in case a giant asteroid strike against the Earth is likely to happen. The report says, “If a serious threat to either a region on Earth, a large swathe of Earth, or perhaps the entirety of Earth, is truly on its way — and astronomers know about it — so will you.” He explains the process of asteroid warning for the public at large.
NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, which was created in early 2016, aims at providing accurate information on time to the government, the media and the world on all the potentially hazardous objects, including asteroids approaching close to Earth. It also maps the potential impact it may have on Earth. However, Johnson said that “We have never actually issued a warning.”
Still, the main role of NASA’s planetary defence office is to know the significant impact that an asteroid can have. Besides this, NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies looks at asteroids and comets that invade Earth’s neighbourhood within 45 million kilometers of Earth’s orbit.
There were two infamous hazardous asteroids incidents in the past which left a huge impact on Earth. One was on June 30, 1908, when a 120 feet wide asteroid entered the atmosphere and struck over Siberia. This is known as the “Tunguska Event,” which resulted in a shockwave that flattened tens of thousands of trees. In another more devastating event, 66 million years ago, the wreckage caused by the Chicxulub asteroid ended the age of the dinosaurs. NASA keeps an active eye on all such asteroids posing a threat to Earth.
Johnson says that there are mainly two major types of warnings that will let you know about the upcoming asteroid. One is a close encounter warning in which NASA tells everyone that a near-Earth object is coming, but that it isn’t going to hit Earth. The second one is a potential impact warning in which NASA says that an asteroid impact is possible.
While NASA and the US government as well as other space agencies across the world would be sending out warnings about this, other scientists would be looking for solutions to either deflect or destroy the asteroid. These are the 2 options that can be used to stop asteroid strikes against Earth.