An enormous asteroid that could strike the Earth in 2028 is making its first pass near the planet this week, and doomsayers are using it as proof we need to build a planetary defense system.
The potentially killer space rock measures about a mile in diameter and will pass safely outside the moon’s orbit this week, but it’s scheduled to return again sometime in 2028 when it will be much closer to Earth.
Dubbed 1997 XF11, the meandering asteroid will pass close to 27 million miles from Earth this week, along with several other space rocks scheduled to come near the planet. Next time, however, its orbit will be much more erratic, making it more likely to strike the planet and cause an extinction level event.
“There are many, but few reach the ground, however we must be prepared for a big one, because they are fatal and would finish a city.”
Late last month, an asteroid came extremely close to striking the Earth. The fireball it created as it skipped through the atmosphere was seen over five states and Mexico where its shockwaves shook local houses, Puebla resident Eduardo Bravo told the Express.
“The sky was lit up as if lightning had struck and a few seconds later we saw an orange object like a rocket.”
Conspiracy theorists went crazy over the event, thinking aliens had finally decided to reveal their presence, and that forced NASA to hold a press conference explaining the earthly nature of the event, Valdes told the Express.
“The trajectory of big asteroids can be seen and monitored, the problem is the small ones that we cannot see.”
— Discover Magazine (@DiscoverMag) June 10, 2016
In April, NASA discovered 72 new asteroids approaching Earth as part of its NEO program designed to track potentially killer space rocks. NASA thinks there are about 10,000 giant rocks floating in space that could potentially at some time strike the Earth, but the space agency admits it can only track about 10 percent of the asteroids.
So far, the Earth has no planetary defense system, but there are several countries working on systems to protect the planet from a doomsday type event including the U.S. and Russia.
Russia is planning to shoot Cold War-era ballistic missiles at any asteroid near enough to threaten the planet. It’s the country most affected by falling space rocks; almost every 50 years Russian cities have been damaged by asteroids. The last one came in 2013 when a 65-foot-wide rock dropped out of the Chelyabinsk sky and injured more than 1,000 people, causing thousands of dollars in damage.
Orbits of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids pic.twitter.com/eNNVHP9IG5
— Prof. Antonio Paris (@AntonioParis) June 10, 2016
The U.S. is also investing in planetary defense technology; the plan includes landing robots on smaller asteroids and remotely piloting them into the larger killer asteroid to save mankind from extinction.
Neither country’s technology is ready for deployment, but that’s OK, says NASA; the Earth won’t face a real threat from falling space rocks for several years to come.
These types of fears may be what’s driving SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s plan to send a manned expedition to Mars by 2028.
The real-life Tony Stark billionaire, who also founded Tesla, said humans need to establish off-world colonies as a way of guaranteeing the preservation of mankind, reports the Huffington Post.
“Either we spread earth to other planets, or we risk going extinct. An extinction event is inevitable and we’re increasingly doing ourselves in.”
What do you think? Are you worried about an asteroid striking the Earth?
[Photo credit: sdecoret/Shutterstock]