Can a dangerous asteroid strike Earth and destroy humanity? Know here

How dangerous are asteroids for Earth? Can a dangerous asteroid strike Earth and destroy it? Get an answer to these questions here.

| Updated on: Oct 02 2022, 18:45 IST
NASA shares asteroid strike images
1/6 NASA’s unique experiment to smash a spacecraft into a small asteroid in the world’s first-ever in-space test for planetary defense has been captured by two of NASA’s Great Observatories, the James Webb Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA)
2/6 These telescopes observed the same celestial object at the same time during this historical event. The DART mission was tested on the asteroid Dimorphous. (Pixabay)
3/6 The coordinated Hubble and Webb observations showed a vast cloud of dust expanding from Dimorphos and Didymos as soon as the spacecraft crashed into it. (AFP)
4/6 NASA’s James Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) captured glimpses four hours after the DART spacecraft hit the target asteroid. It shows plumes of material appearing as wisps streaming away from the centre of where the impact took place. (PTI)
image caption
5/6 The captured glimpses by the world's premier space science observatory James Webb allow it to peer deeper into the universe than ever before. These images are in red because the Telescope operates primarily in the infrared spectrum. (Reuters)
image caption
6/6 While the Hubble Telescope captured the moment from 22 minutes, five hours, and eight hours after impact. It shed light on the expanding spray of matter from where DART hit on the asteroid's left. (NASA)
View all Images
Know about the potential asteroid impact on Earth here. (Pixabay)

Can asteroids be dangerous for Earth? Tens of millions of years ago, a single asteroid collided with the planet, which is said to be the reason behind the extinction of dinosaurs. Though the collision was destructive, our planet survived! Does this mean that Earth cannot be destroyed by an asteroid even though living things on it may go extinct? That cannot be said! Due to the gravitational pull, Earth tends to attract certain objects like asteroids and meteors towards it leading to crashes. However, there is no potential harm caused by these objects until and unless they are large such as the asteroid that killed off all the dinosaurs. So, can a dangerous asteroid strike Earth and destroy it?

According to NASA, the asteroids capable of causing a global disaster if they hit the Earth are extremely rare. They probably would need to be about a kilometer or more in diameter. Such bodies impact the Earth only once every 100,000 years on average. Other objects of a similar size, such as comets, impact even less frequently, perhaps once every 500,000 years or so.

Last week, NASA tested if it could protect Earth from the harmful impact of collision with asteroids via the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission. It can be known that DART is the world's first planetary defense test mission dedicated to investigating and demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection by changing an asteroid's direction in space through impact of a spacecraft against it.

Staying alert and prepared is important as any large enough asteroid strike can have the capacity to destroy Earth in unfathomable ways and may even lead to extinction of humans. According to NASA, no known asteroid poses a significant risk of impact with Earth over the next 100 years.

"The highest risk of impact for a known asteroid is a 1 in 714 chance of impact by an asteroid designated 2009 FD in 2185, meaning that the possibility that it could impact then is less than 0.2 percent. The Sentry Impact Risk Table, which is maintained by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Center for NEO Studies, is updated continuously as new asteroids are discovered and known asteroids are further observed," the research organisation said.

Did you know?

One asteroid that NASA is studying up close, called Bennu, has a 1/2700 chance of impacting Earth between 2175 and 2195. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will complete a 2-year investigation of Bennu before plucking a sample of asteroid material off its surface and delivering it back to Earth. Along with collecting a sample, OSIRIS-REx will also be studying how light absorbed from the Sun and re-radiated by Bennu affects its orbit—and consequently, how that orbit could become more dangerous for Earth.

Follow HT Tech for the latest tech news and reviews , also keep up with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google News, and Instagram. For our latest videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

First Published Date: 02 Oct, 18:44 IST