Staying with the topic of Asteroids, (16 New Asteroids to Fly By Earth), the following visualization and realization that the planet Earth is revolving in the middle of an asteroid shooting gallery is an eye opening experience to see.
Where do most asteroids come from?Most asteroids come from a region between Mars and Jupiter called the asteroid belt, which is loaded with irregular shaped objects ranging in size from dust particles all the way up to 950 km (590 miles) in size (actually that one is a ‘dwarf planet’ named ‘Ceres’).
Portions of the asteroid belt are very dense with objects, and frequent collisions take place, changing the orbital nature of the objects themselves. Some of these result in eventual collisions with the Earth’s atmosphere as meteors or shooting stars. If they are big enough and don’t completely burn up in the atmosphere making it to the ground, they become meteorites.
Video of Asteroid Discoveries from 1980 – 2010The following video shows the locations of all the known asteroids starting in 1980. As new asteroids are discovered they are added to the map and briefly highlighted white so you can pick out the new ones. Watch as the asteroids cross Earth’s orbit (the third ring out from the center)
If you have enough internet bandwidth, select HD 720p or 1080p, full screen, in a dark room for its full effect.
After having watched the video in its entirety, you may gain a new understanding of the asteroid collision risk that the Earth faces in the somewhat chaotic environment of the solar system.
As the video moves into the mid 1990′s we see much higher discovery rates as automated sky scanning systems come online.
Currently we have observed over half a million ‘minor planets’ (asteroids – objects), and the discovery rates show no sign that we’re running out of undiscovered objects. Scientific estimates suggest that there are about a billion asteroids larger than 100 meters (about the size of a football field).
Orbital elements were taken from the ‘astorb.dat’ data created by Ted Bowell and associates at lowell.edu.
Red (Earth Orbit Crossers)
Yellow (Earth Approachers)
White (Newly discovered)
Green (all others)
Asteroid Belt Video Created by Scott Manley
1980 – 2010
Click here to view the embedded video.
Asteroid Belt – Edge View
Click here to view the embedded video.
What are the chances of Earth being hit by an Asteroid?A sobering statement and quotation from the Armagh Observatory, one of the UK and Ireland’s leading scientific research establishments,
“Even conservative estimates would suggest that for every asteroid on a dangerous Earth-Approaching orbit there are hundreds more which have yet to be discovered. There are over 300 known objects on Earth-crossing orbits, the majority of which are potentially capable of causing death and destruction on a scale unheard of in human history.”
“It is estimated that there are perhaps 100,000 to 1,000,000 undiscovered asteroids on similar Earth crossing orbits.”
What can I do to prepare for an Asteroid striking the Earth?
Bringing awareness to more people will hopefully lead towards more interest, research, discovery and mapping of more earth-crossing asteroids.
There have been articles written about theoretical ways to nudge an asteroid off a collision course, given enough advanced time to react, and the budget and will to do so.
All other normal preparedness plans apply.
An asteroid the size of a house would wipe out a city region like a 20 kiloton bomb.
An asteroid the size of half a football field wiped out 1,200 square miles of Siberia in 1908.
An asteroid a mile wide would end us all…
…hope you sleep well tonight (wink)
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