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An asteroid is hurtling towards us. Pray that it doesn't change its orbit

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadNov 10, 2022 | 16:24

An asteroid is hurtling towards us. Pray that it doesn't change its orbit

A football field sized asteroid to pass by Earth. Photo: DailyO

In the 2021 satire film Don't Look Up starring Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio, humanity proves to be no better than those unthinking dinosaurs millions of years ago who were wiped off of the face of Earth by an asteroid. Now, an asteroid is passing by Earth too closely for comfort. 

It sounds like an impossible situation. Like, how can humans end, right?

NASA doesn't think a Don't Look Up kind of scenario is impossible. In fact, there is already an asteroid called Asteroid 2019 XS passing by very closely (6 million kilometres away) from Earth, and if it even minutely changes its trajectory, it could hit Earth and bring massive destruction. 

Should we be worried? Not yet! This asteroid is only the size of a football field. Even if it does hit Earth, just pray that it doesn't hit anywhere near where you live and the worldwide shocks don't impact you. 

  • The asteroid is travelling at the speed of 11.87 kilometres per second, or to put it more in perspective 42,732 kilometres per hour, which is 13 times faster than a rifle bullet.
  • But Asteroid 2019 XS is not a planet-killer asteroid. It will be disastrous, but humans aren't going extinct. 
  • But that doesn't mean there aren't others.

Apollo-class asteroids: Asteroid 2019 XS is part of what is called Apollo-class asteroids. 

  • The orbit of Apollo-class asteroids around the Sun can overlap with Earth's own orbit. Sometime in the future, our orbits may overlap and result in an asteroid crashing into the Earth. 
  • But it isn't happening today. So we can watch India vs England T20 match without worrying about going extinct. (although, tbh, given where the match is going, getting hit by an asteroid doesn't seem too bad at the moment) 
  • However, NASA estimates there could be a worrying asteroid collision between the years 2175 and 2199. Thank goodness, none of us here today will be alive to witness it.

  • This particular worrisome asteroid is called Bennu, which is a gigantic 500-metre-wide asteroid. It means if it crashes into Earth, it can have a continent-destroying impact. 
  • That will be a massively destructive event and have bad worldwide consequences, if not outright extinction. After all, it isn't as if the dinosaurs were wiped out in one go. 

And will humans act just like what Don't Look Up predicted? NASA carried out a simulation on how humans will handle a planet-killer asteroid hit situation.

The conclusion of the simulation: Humanity fails to save Earth. So, yes humans may act EXACTLY like what Don't Look Up predicts.

Last updated: November 10, 2022 | 16:44
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