Chances of a City-Leveling Asteroid: Pretty Darned High
Which is why we need to build an asteroid-hunting telescope, experts say
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2014 12:34 PM CDT
In this Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, file photo, provided by Chelyabinsk.ru, a meteorite contrail is seen over Chelyabinsk.   (AP Photo/Chelyabinsk.ru, Yekaterina Pustynnikova, File)

(Newser) – Bad news: The chances that an asteroid will take out your city are higher than you might think, according to a nonprofit group currently working on an asteroid-tracking telescope. "There is a popular misconception that asteroid impacts are extraordinarily rare," says Ed Lu, the former astronaut who heads the B612 Foundation. "That's incorrect." To make its point, the foundation released a video yesterday highlighting the 26 times an asteroid exploded in Earth's atmosphere between 2000 and 2013, Reuters reports. "An asteroid large enough to destroy an entire city hits the Earth, on average, once a century," says the narrator. The video, based on new data from the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, notes that some of the explosions had 600 kilotons of energy, Space.com reports—compare that to the 15 kilotons of energy in the nuclear bomb that leveled Hiroshima.

But the video's point is not simply to freak you out; the organization wants to sell you on its telescope idea, because right now we have no way of knowing when and where the next devastating asteroid will hit. Many of the aforementioned asteroids exploded high in the atmosphere or in remote locations, but that's just "blind luck," the narrator says. An early warning infrared space telescope could be used to track asteroids, and would spot them while they were still millions of miles and many years away from the planet, the video explains. NASA currently tracks larger asteroids, but an asteroid as small as 131 feet could level a city. The asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, injured more than 1,000 people, and "taught us that asteroids of even [66-foot] size can have substantial effect," Lu says.

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Chances of a City-Leveling Asteroid: Pretty Darned High is...
8%
53%
3%
11%
20%
7%
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Comments
Showing 3 of 50 comments
JERZJOE
Apr 27, 2014 11:27 AM CDT
it may be pretty darn high for the asteroid to hit us!! but!! it's pretty darn high that the DUMOCRAT will get HEMORRHOIDS!! cause that's when the DUMOCRATS LOSE & the REP WIN BIG on NOV 4, 2014 & NOV 8, 2016 &.... 1-GROW the economy & create good-paying AMERICAN jobs!! 2-GET to repeal OBAMACARE & replace it with reforms that truly LOWER COSTS!!! 3-BALANCE the budget IN 10 YEARS,reduce debt & ease TAXES in the middle-class!! 4-PROTECT social security & medicare for current & future retirees!!! 5-STRENGTHEN the military, honor our vets & restore RESPECT FOR AMERICA!!! 6-FIGHT for our individual freedoms & defend the CONSTITUTION!! 7-Then in Nov. 08, 2016 Gov. Christie will be prez!!!! and everything will be AOK in the USA on Jan 20, 2017!! P.S. and the interns will get a paycheck too!! THERE YA GO!!
Ezekiel 25:17
Apr 26, 2014 10:14 PM CDT
Does modern Earth mean we are not going to get life changing hits? Are ice ages over? Are polar melt and refreeze cycles done? We are fooling ourselves if we thing we have tamed Earth.
$103359148
Apr 25, 2014 2:48 PM CDT
Really? Because the last report said slim to none.