Risky Business: The Potential Impact of a Football Stadium-Sized Asteroid on Earth and How Planetary Defense Experts are Trying to Stop It

NASA Successfully Collides Rocket into Asteroid, Potential Debris Threatens Mars

In the coming years, there is a possibility that an asteroid similar in size to a football stadium could collide with Earth. The impact would be catastrophic, comparable to that of a non-radioactive nuclear bomb. Currently, there are about 25,000 asteroids measuring around 460-feet long in near-Earth space, with approximately 15,000 still undiscovered.

One proposed solution to prevent asteroids from striking Earth is by altering their course using a small spacecraft. In September 2022, a spacecraft the size of a van successfully deflected a 525-foot-long near-Earth asteroid named Dimorphos by crashing into it at 14,000 miles per hour. This groundbreaking planetary defense experiment known as DART demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach.

Following the collision, scientists observed a swarm of boulders surrounding Dimorphos, though they posed no immediate threat to Earth. Ongoing analysis revealed that these boulders will not disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere but will instead orbit the Sun for the next 20,000 years. Some of these boulders are projected to intersect with Mars’ orbit and potentially penetrate through its atmosphere, creating crater-like scars on its surface up to 1,000 feet in length.

The research findings published in a recent study by the European Space Agency’s Near-Earth Objects Coordination Centre shed light on the long-term implications of the DART mission and underscored the importance of developing strategies to protect Earth from future asteroid threats.

It is crucial that we continue to monitor and study these celestial bodies closely and take necessary measures to safeguard our planet from potential threats before it is too late.

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