10 RECENT Times The World NEARLY ENDED By ASTEROIDS
Everyday that mankind gets to enjoy life to its fullest is a day where mankind is paying no mind to the dangers that threaten them from space. Minor planets and planetoids threaten the very existence of Earth on a frequent basis - so frequent, in fact, that it is scary. Over the past several decades alone, the people of Earth have been threatened by a slew of asteroids - and these ten are amongst the most life-threatening, should they have changed trajectory and slammed into the blue planet. To put these distances into perspective, our moon is roughly 239,000 miles or 384,000 kilometers from earth.
Toutatis is the type of asteroid that nightmares are made from – or at least it would be should it have struck earth during its pass on December 12th, 2012. It missed us by a substantial 18 lunar distances, or 18 times the distance of the moon. The large asteroid is scheduled to make a second pass in 2016, though, again, it presents no immediate threat to our beautiful blue home. The real terror of Toutatis came from the internet and a series of chain e-mails that claimed the asteroid had a 63% chance of striking earth that year. Toutatis passes by quite frequently, having made close approaches in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012. How big is Toutatis, exactly. Just a mere 4.6 kilometers or 2.86 miles wide is all. Should it ever strike Earth, beyond just the massive crater it would create, Toutatis would generate devastating tsunamis and earthquakes and dust from the impact would darken the skies.
214869 2007 PA
On November 5th, 2012, the asteroid 2007 PA came within 4 million miles or 6.4 million kilometers of striking earth, and at 1,600 meters or 1 mile in diameter, it would have been quite the deadly impact. Had 2007 PA impacted any point on Earth, it would have brought with it death and chaos and lasting effects that would not soon be recovered from. Readings on the asteroid still warrant it to be labeled a potentially-hazardous asteroid, though it is not expected to strike Earth at any point, even in the distant future.
At an impressive 1,000 meters or 3280 feet in diameter, 2012 LZ1 could have been the scariest thing to have happened in June of 2012 – but the large asteroid missed its mark by about 3.35 million miles or 5.4 million kilometers. 2012 LZ1 is predicted to pass earth again in July of 2016, though it will still be quite a sizable distance away at 46 million miles or 74 million kilometers; and though it is predicted that 2012 LZ1 has zero chance of impacting Earth for at least 750 years, it is still a large chunk of rock to be freely floating by our planet. LZ1’s pasty was broadcasted over the internet via the Slooh Space Camera, allowing pedestrians the chance to see this beast from the safety of their home.
On July 3rd, 2006, an object with a diameter of about 260 meters or 850 feet passed over the west coast of North America, some 268,000 miles or 431,000 kilometers away. The object was 2004 XP, a potentially-hazardous asteroid that had initially brought with it concern of impact when it was discovered in 2004. Due to its size and relatively close proximity to Earth, 2004 XP was watched closely as it was believed it would make land-fall sometime in the late 21st century. Further observation has ruled out any potential collision in the foreseeable future. Note, of course, the word “Foreseeable.”
33342 1998 WT24
Earth isn’t the only planet threatened by the likes of 1998 WT, as the orbits of both Mercury and Venus are also in its path. 1998 WT is an Aten asteroid, or a group of near-Earth asteroids, that was discovered in November of 1998 after it came within 4 million miles of Mercury. From 1908 to 2001, WT has made three near-Earth approaches, the closest having been 841,000 miles or 1.35 million kilometers in December of 1956. In 2011, WT24 skimmed earth by some 1 million miles or 1.6 million kilometers. Should WT had made land-fall, this 420 meter or 1375 foot wide asteroid would have brought regional destruction and devastation.
This 360 meter wide potentially hazardous asteroid came within 201,900 miles of impact with Earth on November 8, 2011. The asteroid was discovered in December of 2005 and it wasn’t until April of 2010 that uncertainties about the object’s trajectory were officially removed, allowing 2005 YU to be dropped from the Sentry Risk Table entirely. Geophysicist Jay Melosh has stated that should an asteroid the size of 2005 YU impact earth, it would create a nearly 4-mile wide crater and generate an earthquake equivalent to a 7-magnitude. Luckily, there is only a 1% chance of an asteroid the size of 2005 YU hitting Earth within the next 1,000 years.
69230 Hermes – or 1937 UB – passed by earth at about double the distance of the moon and, at the time, was the closest approach – but that was also back in October 1937. After its observation in 1937, Hermes disappeared entirely and all was thought to be safe. In 2003, Hermes was rediscovered with accompanying information that showed the asteroid actually passed by Earth a second time in 1942, coming within 394,270 miles (or 1.7 moon distances) of impact.
2007 TU was a 250 meter or 820 foot wide asteroid, that, on January 29th, 2008, came within 344,370 miles or roughly 554,000 kilometers from Earth. When it was discovered in October of 2007, scientists worked to determine the risk assessment of 2007 TU. Though it was believed to be the closest of any known potentially hazardous asteroid, a total of 316 observations of the object clarified the trajectory, allowing it to be removed from the Sentry Risk Table in December of 2007. Sure, 2007 TU posed no immediate threat, but it does paint a pretty grim “What If” scenario.
2009 DD45 (23)
On March 2nd, 2009, an asteroid with a diameter between 15 and 23 meters or 50 to 75 feet came within 39,500 miles or 63,500 kilometers of Earth. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, have you ever heard of the Tunguska Event of 1908? 770 square-miles or 2000 square kilometers of forest was devastated by what was believed to be air bursts from an asteroid of about the same size as DD45. Imagine the same effect in a populated area – or if the asteroid had even made impact instead of burst in the. DD45 has another chance at destruction, though, as it is predicted to come back around in February of 2056 and March of 2067.
Passing 3.4 million kilometers or 2.1 million miles from Earth on March 29th, 2007 was 2006 VV2, an asteroid that is 2 kilometers or 1.25 miles in diameter and could have done a bit of devastation to our beautiful planet. In comparison to some of the other massive giants that have made some close encounters, VV2 is considerably small – but the tiny asteroid still would have left a sizable dent in Mother Earth. We’re safe for the time being, though – that is, of course, until around 2036, which is when an asteroid of the same size is expected to near the planet in the same fashion.