NASA just released an Asteroid alert that is set to hit Earth in April, and it could potentially cause lives. The said asteroid is listed by NASA's CNEOS or Center for Near-Earth Object Studies and it has been officially named as 52768 or 1998 OR2. NASA experts had estimated that the said asteroid measures up to 2.5 miles or 4.1km across.
An asteroid as massive as the 1998 OR2 could potentially destroy civilization if it hits Earth in the future. According to NASA, the rock is heading Earth at the speed of 8.7km per second or 31,320 kilometers per hour. With this estimated speed that the asteroid is going, it will close-in on Earth on April 29, 2020.
NASA's asteroid alert
NASA added to their statement that if 1998 OR2 hits earth, it could kill millions of people immediately. According to the Planetary Society, an asteroid that measures more than 0.6 miles or 1km across is massive enough to be labeled as a global threat. Astronomers also estimate that an asteroid that size has a one in 50,000 chance of hitting Earth at lease every 100 years. They also stated that a crater of 10km or more can be the cause of the collapse of civilization.
Astronomer Dr. Bruce Betts said that small asteroids that measure only a few meters across, hit the Earth frequently and it burns up immediately in the atmosphere, so it does a little damage. In 2013, an asteroid that was 20m in size hit Earth and it sent shock waves that caused injuries. In 1908, a 40m asteroid hit Siberia that destroyed a city.
Dr. Betts added that larger asteroids could cause regional destruction and even larger ones could cause a global catastrophe and it will take us years to recover. The potential of an asteroid this massive to destroy numerous regions was shown in a 2018 report that was published by the US National Science and Technology Council.
According to the National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy, space objects that are close to and larger than 1km can already cause damage globally. These kinds of asteroids can already cause tsunamis, earthquakes and other dangerous effects that can be felt beyond the impact area.
To compare the potential damage, the asteroid that is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs measured around 10km or 6 miles across. The asteroid 1998 OR2 that is said to hit Earth on April measures around 2.54 miles or 4.1km across. The 1998 OR2 was spotted by NASA flying around the Sun back in 1987 and by June 30, 1987, NASA confirmed the asteroid's orbit. Numerous astronomers have labeled the rock as potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.
How close can the asteroid come to Earth?
The closest that the asteroid can get is 0.04205 astronomical units. One unit is the distance of Earth from the Sun, so that is about 93 million miles or 149.6 million km. The 1998 OR2 asteroid will cut the distance down to 3.9 million miles or 6.29 million km on April 29.
The 1998 OR2 is expected to miss Earth by 16.36 times the distance from Earth to the Moon. According to Dr. Betts, there are some asteroids that are currently known to have a low chance of hitting Earth. One asteroid that has the highest probability of hitting Earth is around 37m in diameter and is called 2000 SG344, and it has 1 in 1100 chance of hitting Earth in 2071. However, Dr. Betts said that there are still uncertainties and NASA must be prepared always.