A massive asteroid known as ‘2014-YB35‘ will pass by our planet tomorrow, when it is expected to be in very close proximity to us – within 2.8 million miles. It will not so much as touch us (hopefully). However, we cannot help but wonder about the dramatic devastation it would have triggered had it collided with us.
Our planet rotating and revolving in space stands vulnerable to the unknown that exists out there. What prevents comets and asteroids from hitting us, thereby destroying civilisations? Food for thought!
A 1 000-meter wide asteroid named ‘2014-YB35’ is expected to pass by our planet on the 27th of March 2015. Scientists say it is moving at a speed of 37 000 kph and could have annihilated a whole country were it not to miss the Earth.
It will pass within 2.8 million miles of our planet. Images from NASA illustrate how narrowly the asteroid is to miss the Earth. Narrow-escape, much?
As indicated by its name, it was discovered last year by the Catalina Sky Survey. Now, as it is soon to pass by the Earth, astronomers are keeping track of its progress.
The above image shows the path of the asteroid as it is expected to come into close proximity to the Earth. Photo credits: NASA.
The event is a once-in-5 000-years phenomenon – having a heavenly body of this size passing this close is indeed a rare occurrence.
It is so big that the energy released from a collision with the Earth would be equivalent to more than 15 000 million tones of TNT – you can imagine the disaster that it would cause. The devastation that it could have otherwise unleashed would cause massive climate change, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural calamities. Fortunately though, the universe is well-tuned and the asteroid will not actually send us all to extinction.
‘Pieces from heaven’ have, however, hit the Earth in the past. Back in 1908, a 50-meter rock hit Siberia, flattening around 80 million trees and triggering a shock wave across Russia. That incident is known as the Tunguska Event.
Bill Napier, professor of astronomy at the University of Buckinghamshire, commented that there is a ‘very real risk‘ of a comet or damaging asteroid of lesser intensity than the Tunguska Event one hitting Earth.
“Smaller scale events like Tunguska are absolutely a real risk, largely they are undiscovered and so we are unprepared,” he said.
“With something like YB35, we are looking at a scale of global destruction, something that would pose a risk to the continuation of the planet. These events are however very rare, it is the smaller yet still very damaging impacts which are a very real threat,” Napier added.
So, while YB35 is not much of a threat to us, the unknown that exists in space still might be. Can we ever feel safe?