The Chelyabinsk meteor

17 June 2021
The probability of disaster.

The past week’s poll asked viewers to name the major asteroid that hit the earth in 2013.

The correct answer was option A, the Chelyabinsk meteor.

Chelyabinsk 2013

Eight years ago on 15 February 2013, disaster struck the Russian city of Chelyabinsk when a house-sized asteroid entered the earth’s atmosphere at over eleven miles per second and exploded over the city.

The explosion released the energy equivalent of about 440,000 tons of TNT and sent a shock wave that shattered windows over 200 square miles and damaged some buildings. Over 1,600 people were injured from this incident, mostly due to broken glass.

NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer, Lindley Johnson, called the event a cosmic wake-up call and opportunity to find solutions on what more needs to be done to detect even larger asteroids before they strike the planet.

Currently there are no high impact asteroids predicted, the single highest probability impact currently listed is a 7m asteroid 2010 RF12, expected to pass earth in September 2095 with only a 5% predicted possibility of impacting. Currently prediction is mainly based on cataloguing asteroids years before they are due to impact.

Is earth ready?

Late physicist and genius Stephan Hawking, in his final book Brief Answers to the Big Questions, gives the opinion that an asteroid collision to be the biggest threat to the planet. The National Science and Technology Council of the United States of America has developed and released the National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy Action Plan to better prepare for a hight impact event. Expert opinion says that NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) would require at least five years of preparation to launch a mission to intercept an asteroid, however the preferred method is to deflect rather than disrupt an asteroid.

Is 2095 to far to start worrying? Leave us a comment.

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