According to scientists from the European Space Agency, an asteroid will impact Earth ‘sooner or later’ and it could wipe out mankind.
Scientists from the (ESA) spoke about the risks our species faces as the world ‘celebrates’ International Asteroid Day. According to experts, our planet is at a very ‘high’ risk of being impacted by an asteroid which could bring upon us devastating effects.
Interestingly, throughout our planet’s long—4.5 billion-year—history, Earth has been repeatedly impacted by asteroids and comets which have triggered many extinction events on Earth.
Even though astronomers have positively identified most of the 1km-size asteroids that are a threat to Earth, they currently are hunting for those with an average size of 150 meters since those space rocks too could cause catastrophic damage if they impact Earth.
“Sooner or later we will get… a minor or major impact,” warned Rolf Densing, head of the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany.
Densing said that “the risk that Earth will get hit in a devastating event one day is very high,” even though such an event might not occur in our lifetime.
However, experts warned that mankind is “not ready to defend ourselves” against an Earth-bound object. “We have no active planetary defense measures,” he added.
And while the threat IS out there, experts have already begun cooking up with plans on how we could defend our planet against such potential collisions. The options are a few and vary from blowing up space rocks with NUKES—Armaggeddon-movie style—to vaporizing them with lasers of pulling them off course with space-tractor technology.
However, for us to save humanity from asteroids and comets we must first find them. Obviously.
Astronomers are on the lookout for space rocks which are classified into several different sizes ranging from a few centimeters to those with a diameter of more than 10 kilometers—average size of the comet that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.
The largest impacts tend to occur every 100 million years or so, and the next impact could spell catastrophe for the human civilization.
Recent studies have also looked into why some extinction event seem to repeat themselves.
Back in the 1980s, experts noticed that mass extinction events on our planet—like the one which is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs—seemed to follow a cyclical pattern. After several studies, scientists were able to calculate that mass extinctions on Earth occur every 27 million years. This raised numerous questions and the long pauses between events made them turn towards the universe to look for an explanation.
Experts believe that our solar system has a missing—rogue star—which they dubbed Nemesis, which could be responsible for hurling objects from the outer solar system towards our planet. In fact, NEMESIS may even have been responsible for mass extinctions that have rocked Earth for millions of years.
So far astronomers have managed to trace more than 90% of asteroids that are in the dinosaur-killing range, discovering that so far, none of them pose an immediate threat.
However, the dinosaur-killing asteroids aren’t what worries experts as a much bigger concern is the hiding place of millions of space rocks that range from 15 to 150 meters in diameter.
An asteroid of around 40 meters in diameter caused the largest impact in modern history when it exploded over Tunguska, Siberia, on June 30, 1908.
The Tunguska impact destroyed 80 million trees over 2,000 square kilometers.
According to experts, Tunguska-type impacts tend to occur every 300 years or so.
Nicolas Bobrinsky, program manager of the European Space Agency’s Space Situational Awareness project, which surveys asteroids said: “Imagine that this type of asteroid would fall in a very populated area like… Paris or Germany, I mean this is something that would be really, really a catastrophe.”