News

Earth’s Close Encounter

asteroid-2017-ag13

By Gabe Hartwell 

On January 9th, only a few short weeks in the past, an asteroid by the name of 2017 AG13 came between the earth and the moon, only 126 thousand miles from Earth. This is not uncommon, however.

A meteor exploded over Russia in 2013 and was burned up by the atmosphere during its entry before it made contact with the Earth. The 55ft diameter rock caused over 10 million dollars of damage and hospitalized around 1,500 people. In 2017, the meteor AG13, which was 90-100ft in diameter, would have done significantly more damage. If it were to hit, it would have exploded with the equivalent force of 35 Fat Man atomic bombs (the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki in 1945).

Meteors hit the Earth more than most people know. Look at the moon for instance: thousands of visible craters from meteorites. The Earth has something the moon does not: an atmosphere. The atmosphere will burn up any meteor smaller than 40ft. But meteors over 40ft hit the earth more than you may think. The earth’s surface is 71% water, which means that if a meteor does hit, it has about a 7/10 chance of landing in an ocean. This would drastically decrease the threat of a meteor.

NASA boasts about having discovered about 95% of all NEOs (near earth objects) yet they discovered this asteroid only 2 days before its near miss. This could mean that if a “planet killer” asteroid was on a collision course with earth, we might not know about it. Planet killer refers to an asteroid that is big enough to wipe out a majority of life on earth and plunge the planet into a massive ice age due to the debris blocking out the sun. This is the leading theory in the extinction of the dinosaurs. The meteor that most likely hit earth 66 million years ago was around 6.2 miles (10km) wide. Some even believe the crater it left is the entire gulf of mexico. This meteor wiped out the majority of life on the surface of earth and most of the creatures that survived were sea animals.  
But, not to worry, If a planet killer meteor does end up hitting earth it won’t be for thousands of years. So don’t worry too much about doomsday, because it is very far off.

Categories: News, Uncategorized

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