A Russian scientist and his team have discovered an asteroid, described as “mountain-sized,” that orbits the Earth every three years and could – eventually – cataclysmically end life on this planet.
Or maybe not.
Although the mountain-sized asteroid, lovingly named UR116, poses no immediate threat to Earth – at the moment – its orbit is unpredictable at best. And it heads this way every three years, according to Christian Science Monitor; meaning that we’re in the clear for now, but who knows what will happen decades or even centuries from now.
“We need to permanently track this asteroid, because even a small mistake in calculations could have serious consequences.”
In fact, the lead scientist who discovered the asteroid, Vladimir Lipunov, and his team have created a video, called “Asteroid Attack,” speculating on what would happen if the 370-meter (1213-foot) wide asteroid were to collide directly with the Earth. As you can expect, it’s not good; Lipunov estimates that the mountain-sized asteroid would hit Earth with a release of energy 1,000 times greater than the meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013.
You can watch the video of the below; it’s in Russian, but let’s face it, the visuals speak for themselves, especially at the beginning, when it shows actual footage recorded by Russian security cameras, dash cameras, and mobile devices of the Chelyabinsk event.
The discovery of the mountain-sized asteroid, together with its irregular and unpredictable orbit, at the very least, points out the need for the scientific community to monitor and – eventually – figure out a way to neutralize Earth-bound asteroids, says Yahoo News science writer Fred Weir.
In 2013, a bus-sized meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, according to this Inquisitr report. There were no human deaths attributed to the event, but at least 1,500 were injured, and countless buildings were damaged or destroyed. And the scientific community had no idea it was coming.
Currently, NASA, as well as other government science and space agencies, are monitoring the skies for Near-Earth Objects – that is, asteroids, comets, meteors, and space junk – that could potentially fall to Earth and cause damage and casualties. Science estimate there are 100,000 such objects; only 11,000 of them are currently being tracked, says Russian space-watcher Natan Esmant, via The Christian Science Monitor.
“Every couple of days new ones are being discovered. Scientists have increasingly powerful tools to do this work, but there’s a lot still to be done. Every object that crosses the Earth’s path can be a potential threat.”
As of this post, mountain-sized asteroid UR116 is not known to be an immediate threat to Earth for its next few dozen orbital cycles.
[Image courtesy of: Kazan Federal University]