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2km-wide Asteroid Approaching Earth, NASA Warns

An asteroid is quite big enough to kill millions of people is currently on its way to Earth but is projected to brush past, missing by some 25 million kilometers – a slight distance by space standards, NASA said. The asteroid, called Asteroid 86666 (2000 FL10), was first detected 16 years ago. On Saturday it will pass Earth, one of the major asteroids to approach our planet so closely. The rock’s real size is unknown, but it might be as wide as 2.6 kilometers, according to approximations. It will zip past at a speed of nearly 64,000 kilometers an hour at a distance of almost 25 million kilometers – about 67 times further than the moon. The size of this asteroid makes it big enough to be deliberated a potentially hazardous object (PHO). If it were to smash our planet, the result would be devastating. The effect of such a PHO crash would theoretically be alike to that of many thousands of atomic bombs blowing up at once.

Image Credit: NASA / Reuters

As such an uninvited guest from space is more probable to smash the ocean than land (as most of the Earth’s surface is concealed with water), it would rapidly send a gigantic quantity of water into the atmosphere, though at the same time triggering shocking tsunamis and enormous tidal waves. Sunlight would also be blocked out completely, probably for years, by clouds of dirt, and water directed into the atmosphere by the detonation. During the subsequent artificial winter, several species would face threat of extinction. The good news is that, even though 2000 FL10’s size meets PHO criteria, it is still not registered as a threat, because it won’t come nearby enough to Earth. The asteroid will pass Earth by at a distance well outside the 7 million kilometer region that would specify a danger of collision.

According to NASA there are no asteroids or comets detected that stance a threat of impact in the predictable future and approximations the chance of a PHO crash in the next century at less than 0.01 percent.

But impacts with PHOs have taken place in the past. Although small meteorites attack our planet’s atmosphere every day, the last truly big impact was about 65 million years ago.

Researchers consider that a comet hit the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico at that time, triggering such terrible damage to the atmosphere that all the dinosaurs died out.

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