March 15, 2009

Huge Asteroid Misses Earth

TECHNOLOGY - On March 3rd 2009 the Earth narrowly avoided being hit by an asteroid 115 feet wide (about the size of a 10 story building). The impact damage, had it struck the Earth would have been 1000 times the size of the Hiroshima bomb during World War II.

At its closest point it was 45,000 miles away, twice the distance of the highest satellites, but still close enough it was a risk of falling into Earth's gravitational pull and causing massive damage.

Astronomers had only three days of warning that 'Asteroid 2009 DD45' was coming but figured there was very little collision risk and didn’t make a big deal about it.

Asteroid 2009 DD45’s size is about the same size as the Tunguska asteroid that leveled 2,000 kilometers of forest in Siberia in 1908. The incident at Tunguska is thought to have been caused by an explosion by a comet or asteroid 6 to 8 kilometers above the surface of the Earth, as no crater or meteorite fragments were ever found at the site and its been recorded as an unknown phenomenon.

Earth takes on about 10,000 tons of space debris each year, mostly from dust from comets or asteroid pieces. Larger pieces however pose significant danger.

Scientists are already concerned about another asteroid, known as Apophis, that will come close to the Earth in 2029 and pass very close to the Earth again in 2036 and again in 2037. Apophis is about 1,000 meters wide, but its speed/size would cause damage roughly 10,000 times the size of the Hiroshima bomb.

If Apophis does strike the Earth, its predicted to hit the Pacific Ocean, creating a tsunami that would destroy many coastal regions in the United States, China and other Pacific rim countries.

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