Asteroid called 2016 QA2 back in August 2016 and asteroid AG13 this January 2017 miss our planet only by a few hundred miles. These objects were both in the same class, over 100 feet in diameter, but so small in the vastness of space that there’s almost nothing we can do to detect them. Even a rock over 100 feet in diameter can still cause a lot of damage even to the point of sustained infrastructure disruption depending on the impact zone. The blast of such meteors burning through our atmosphere would be about 30 times as powerful as the atomic bomb dropped at Hiroshima. The impact to the surface of the earth would depend on the decent angle of the object. Most asteroids have shallow angles of attack and would simply skip across the earth’s atmosphere then back out to space, but not all of them, and we are not always that lucky.
The threat of an near earth asteroid impact is so much of an reality that Congress has tasked NASA with finding 90 percent of asteroids 450 feet or larger by 2020, the agency is nowhere close to that goal. Funding for asteroid detection is very low, and most telescopes that could detect asteroids of this size won’t come online for a few more years if at all. Another reason to worry is that there aren’t a lot of people looking for potentially dangerous impact asteroids. Even if NASA or armature stargazer found an impacting object approaching the earth, there is nothing we can do to re-direct or stop the collision.
Unfortunately it will take a catastrophic impact of some intensity to motivate an international movement to fund orbital satellites designed to destroy or re-direct any potential threat to our only safe haven, planet earth. Let’s hope we will survive an impact of lesser magnitude then the ones that devastated our planet so many times in her past. A reality all too real and an absolute that most of us think we will simply outlive such an event.
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