Asteroid 1998 OX4 has been identified in a report by a British Near-Earth Object task force as possibly impacting the earth as early as 2014. This object, with a 200-meter diameter, would cause massive damage, depending on where it struck the earth. If it struck land, it would completely destroy an area the size of Delaware, and leave the atmosphere laden with so much debris that the climate would be affected for years. The possible effect of impact at sea would range from tidal waves to severe earth and atmospheric disruption, depending on where it hit.

As it happens, NASA is planning to launch its Deep Impact probe in 2004, which is intended to launch a projectile at Comet 9P Tempe 1 in 2005. At the time that the probe reaches the area of 9P Tempe One, 1998 OX4 will be in the same immediate area of the solar system, and due to make another close pass at earth in 2006. The purpose of the probe is to see how much of an effect the projectile will have on the comet, and whether or not its orbit can be changed.

To read the report’s comments on possible impactors, click here.

To read the whole report, click here.

For further information from Kent Steadman’s website, click here.

For a discussion of this issue, click here.

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