Half-Kilometer Wide Asteroid Headed Our Way Could Actually Collide With Earth: Here’s How [Opinion]

Is there even the slightest possibility that asteroid 2014 JO25, the giant space rock that has been making world headlines of late (due to its size and its nearness to Earth when it makes its pass on April 19), could actually collide with Earth even though world space agencies like NASA have assured us that it will speed safely by? As a matter of fact, it could still happen, although the chances of such an event occurring is minimal and growing increasingly less likely by the second. But how? How could asteroid 2014 JO25, which Phys.org reports is slated to pass Earth by over a million miles, possibly still collide with Earth?

The answer lies in a timely meeting with another asteroid, one of mass, trajectory, and velocity that could alter 2014 JO25’s own path in a collision, sending the more than half-kilometer-wide asteroid hurtling onward but now set to collide with Earth.

Space, as astronomers and astrophysicists know, is filled with objects of all shapes and sizes flying in myriad directions, any of which, given proper circumstances involving trajectory and velocity, could find itself attempting to share the same point in space at precisely the same moment. This, too, could be true of 2014 JO25, a massive asteroid measuring 2,000 feet (610 meters) wide, as it moves through space in its orbit through the Solar System.

The hypothetical rogue asteroid that could potentially carom off of 2014 JO25 to send it Earthward could easily exist in our Solar System. In fact, most asteroids that fit the definition of Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) and the more dangerous subcategory, the Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs), have yet to be detected even though, back in October, it was announced that the number of observed NEOs had surpassed 15,000.

Ettore Perozzi, manager of the the European Space Agency’s NEO Coordination Centre near Rome, Italy, told Phys.org at the time that only about 10 percent of objects measuring roughly 100 meters (330 feet) in diameter. (The level of danger associated with such object should be gauged thusly: The Chelyabinsk meteor that detonated in the skies over Russia in 2013 did so with the energy of approximately 30 Hiroshima atomic bombs — and it was estimated to be just 20 meters (66 feet) wide). The good news, if such it can be labeled, to compliment that startling number is that scientists believe that some 90 percent of asteroids measuring 1000 meters (3,280 feet) have already been found.

Crowded asteroid field
There is believed to be tens of thousands of undetected asteroids in the Solar System. [Image by Paul Fleet/Shutterstock]

Still, that leaves 10 percent of the PHAs unaccounted for, not to mention that deadly smaller space rocks that existed undetected in abundance — any one of which could suddenly carom off of 2014 JO25 and alter its orbital path, sending it on a deadly course towards Earth. And although such a carom might cause the giant asteroid to lose some of its mass, a massive asteroid like 2014 JO25 could impact the Earth with catastrophic force.

As the Inquisitr recently reported, a study conducted by InsuranceQuotes, which used the NASANear-Earth Object Program database, indicated that an asteroid measuring 1805 feet (550 meters), if it were to impact the city of Chicago, would generate a death toll of 9.5 million.

Needless to say, an impact near a major urban center on Earth would result in a horrendous number of casualties and produce an unprecedented amount of damage.

But that is only if the massive asteroid were to actually collide with Earth.

asteroid moving past Earth
It is possible that asteroids not on a collision heading with Earth could suddenly become so under the right circumstances. [Image by Mopic/Shutterstock]

So, barring any unforeseen cosmic billiard shots by an as yet undetected asteroid, 2014 JO25 will continue to streak safely by, coming closer to Earth than it has in 400 years. And, barring any other circumstances that might in some way affect its orbit (which at present is taking it out past Jupiter before it loops back around to move through the inner planets of the Solar System), the giant asteroid will not pass as close to Earth again for another four centuries.

[Featured Image by solarseven/Shutterstock]