Asteroid 2013 Texas is a large asteroid that is 100 wide and could potentially crash into our country. However, NASA believes this is unlikely after conducting a thorough rethink. The asteroid is scheduled for a very close flyby on 28th September, 2017, and a less-close one on March 8th, 2016. NASA estimates that there is a very small chance of an asteroid colliding with Earth. NASA says it is a 1 in 250million possibility. However, it is possible. If 250,000,000 EuroMillions lottery tickets are sold, there is usually one winner. The likelihood of a deadly asteroid hitting us next year could be as high as winning the lottery. Asteroid 2013 TX68’s orbit compared to Earth’s. Is a 1-in-250-million chance so insignificant we should not worry? If you have won EuroMillions, it is unlikely. Image: www.nasa.gov. Is 100 an asteroid that is a deadly threat? The Chelyabinsk meteor, a superbolide that exploded at a height of about 18.4 miles or 97,400 feet (29.7 km), on 15th February, 2013, was 20 metres (65.6 feet) wide. It occurred just north of Chelyabinsk, Russia. The shockwave from the explosion caused damage to 7 ,200 structures in six different cities in the area. 1 ,500 person sustained serious injuries that required hospitalization. If a 65-feet-wide object can do that, then ‘Yes’, a 100-ft-wide asteroid has the potential to kill people and cause severe damage. Think about the potential damage to property and death that 2013 would cause if it were to explode in a highly-populated region, such as New York City, London, Mexico City, Shanghai, or Mexico City. It would result in massive loss of life, property damage, and panic. A fireball that exploded above the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month with 13000 tons TNT was a forceful event. This was the largest explosion since the 2013 Chelyabinsk bomb. The explosion took place 620 miles from the Brazilian coast. It was barely noticed by anyone. (Image: twitter.com/MeteoriteMen) NASA contradicts itself In what appears to be a slightly contradictory coment, NASA wrote on its website on 25th February: “Scientists at NASA’s Center for NEO Studies (CNEOS) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have determined there is no possibility that this object could impact Earth during the flyby next month.” “But they have identified an extremely remote chance that this small asteroid could impact on Sep. 28, 2017, with odds of no more than 1-in-250-million. Flybys in 2046 and 2097 have an even lower probability of impact.” The two terms ‘there is no possiblity’ and ‘odds of no more than a 1-in-250-million’ should not really go together in one announcement, should they? 2013 Texas 68 will likely fly by Earth on March 8th 2016,, but it will probably be farther away than the September 2017, predictions. NASA predicts that if it does hit Earth it will probably cause an air explosion with twice the energy as the Chelyabinsk fireball event in 2013.. Chelyabinsk fireball trail. According to the European Space Agency: “An object entered the atmosphere over the Urals early in the morning of 15 February 2013. Overpressure from the fireball caused destruction to buildings, inflicting hundreds of injuries. Alex Alishevskikh took this photo about one minute after seeing the explosion. (Image: esa.int/spaceimages). Space agencies around the globe are exploring the use of nuclear weapons to alter the trajectories of killer asteroids that seem Earth bound so they miss Earth. The EU Commission had announced in January that they were sending a group of Russian scientists to investigate how effective nuclear bombs could be in reducing the danger of asteroids. The nuclear bomb could explode on the celestial body or very near it, and cause its outer layers of water to evaporate. This would make it disappear from Earth. This mission is part of the NEOShield Project. The NEOShield (Near Earth Object Shield) Project is an international collaboration involving 13 partners from industry and research institutions. The EU Commission awarded NEOShield FP7 funding 2014, in order to develop space-based deflection technology solutions that can prevent impacts from threatening non-earth orbiting objects. A nuclear blast deflection, according to neoshield.net “Requires use of nuclear explosives close to an asteroid.” Explosion causes outer layers to evaporate. This acts just like rocket fuel and pushes the asteroid away. It is a very different picture than the Hollywood image of asteroids being destroyed. This is thought to be safer and more efficient way of protecting the Earth.” (Image from neoshield.net). NASA defines NEOs as comets or asteroids whose orbits have been “nudged” by the gravitational pull of other planets. There have been many major collisions throughout Earth’s history. These collisions played an important role in the formation of the modern planets orbiting the Sun. Comets and asteroids also provided organic material and water, which was essential to the growth of life on Earth in the beginning. These celestial bodies not only contributed to the development of life on Earth, but also caused mass extinctions. They pose an immediate threat to the survival of humankind and may even threaten their own existence. According to scientists from Japan, Russia, China, Russia and the European Union (as well as Japan), major comet and asteroids collisions are likely to continue in unpredictable and irregular times. There are thousands of NEOs in the universe. This is a direct result of focused efforts and better observing techniques. The real danger to Earth’s existence has been exposed. The Chelyabinsk incident was a minor occurrence compared to other events that have occurred on our planet. A major impact was responsible for the extermination of dinosaurs 65 million years ago. According to the European Commission: “The potentially devastating effects of an impact of a large asteroid or comet are now well recognized, although we can only speculate on the complex disruptive effects a major impact would have on today’s technically sophisticated and highly networked world.” Video – Asteroid 2013 TX68 When the asteroid does a flyby on March 8th, it is expected to be between 11,000 miles (17,000 km) and 9 million miles (14 million km) from Earth. Scientists haven’t been able to make precise predictions due to the wide range in distances between possible nearest approach points.
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