Asteroid Big Enough 'To Destroy A City' Narrowly Avoids Planet Earth
We're all going to die!
Not today though, hopefully sometime way, way into the future. That's good.
But why the panic? Well, the Earth (where we live) had a close run-in with an asteroid recently - at least by the standards astronomers judge close run-ins with asteroids.
Asteroid 2018 GE3 flew past us today, half the distance to the Moon. Around 50-100 m in diameter, it was several times the 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor, around the size of the 1908 Tunguska event ~ easily enough to destroy a city. We had less than a day's warning. (:camera: Michael Jäger) pic.twitter.com/kElrxBiUoB- Andrew Rader (@marsrader) April 16, 2018
The big rock flew within 119,613 miles of the Earth, which according to astronomers is quite close, even though it is patently far, far away. Further than Greece, and that's miles from us. You can't even walk there.
The meteor is called 2018 GE3 and passed the Earth without a hitch - no surprise given that it was halfway between the Earth and the Moon.
Nonetheless, the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona called it the closest ever near miss, so it's probably for the best that the asteroid passed us by and went to mess with some other planet.
According to EarthSky.org, 2018 GE3 was first observed at Catalina Sky Survey, Arizona on Saturday (14 April), and passed us at about half the distance between the Earth and the moon in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The meteor is between three and six times as big as the one that flew over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013, which resulted in injuries to over a thousand people, mostly from flying glass.
The website also noted that had the asteroid entered the Earth's atmosphere, a 'great portion' of it would have disintegrated due to 'friction with the air.'
Asteroids or asteroid pieces regularly pass through the Earth's atmosphere, though no fatalities (to humans) have ever been recorded.
Vredefort Crater in South Africa is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the world's largest known crater, followed by Sudbury Basin in Canada and the Acraman Crater in South Australia.
The most recent of the big boys is the Chesapeake Bay Crater, which was created by an asteroid collision around 35 million years ago. That's ages ago.
And, of course, the dinosaurs - unless you believe in Creationism - were almost certainly wiped out by a meteor strike which created the Chicxulub crater in modern-day Mexico.
Have a nice day, though, and don't be afraid of asteroids.
Featured Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI) (Creative Commons)