Science News

Asteroid Near-missed Earth Last Weekend

Sun, 17th Mar 2002

Part of the show Using Viruses To Treat Cancers - Moira Brown

Last week we were talking rather light-heartedly about the chances of an asteroid colliding with the Earth. We might have taken this subject a little more seriously if we'd known about this next report:- Last Saturday one of the largest asteroids ever to approach the Earth whizzed past us unnoticed and wasn't spotted until 4 days later. This asteroid was around 100m across - almost as big as a football field! And it came within 450,000 km of us, which is only 1 and a half times as far away as the moon! Astronomers didn't spot the asteroid at first because it was in what's known as a blind spot. In other words it was too close to the sun for us to see it. This asteroid never posed a serious threat - but say it had been on a collision course with the Earth (although this is very unlikely) ? We wouldn't have known until it was too late to do anything about it…. Astronomers are calling for more funds to help them catalogue all these so-called "near-earth objects" so that we get advance warning of possible collisions. Don't lose any sleep over it - the chances of the Earth being wiped out by an asteroid are 1 in a very small number.


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