The media is bursting with scare stories over asteroid 1999-FN53. It’s a kilometer wide and it’s going to make a close pass on Thursday at .68 astronomical units (AU). Will it strike Earth? Highly unlikely, NASA says. Its high speed of 30,000 mph means that it should be easily propelled past us without slowing down. If it did, it would essentially destroy civilization, leading to the death of at least a third of mankind.
It will not impact Earth on its initial pass, but only in the extremely unlikely event that it was caught by our planet’s gravity and began to orbit us. If that happened, it would eventually strike the planet. It is approximately twice the size of Mt. Everest and a strike would have devastating results.
Last year on Dreamland, Dr. Robert Schoch explained that Earth is entering an area of space that contains more debris than has been experienced in the past millennium, so more large objects passing close or even impacting the planet are to be expected. Despite the stories, it isn’t even listed on NASA’s Near Earth Object risk table.
The real impact danger comes not from objects that we are tracking, but from those that we have not spotted or cannot see. There are known to be objects so dark that they don’t reflect enough sunlight to be observed, and there are objects which are not observed until just before they make a close pass, and, like the Chelyabinsk Meteor, objects that are only detected on impact. NASA’s Near Earth Object detection program strives to identify all objects that are potentially dangerous, but limited funding hampers this effort.
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