Science

We're All Lucky 2012DA14 Didn't Hit Earth

By Sean Kane email: s.kane@itechpost.com , Feb 17, 2013 09:32 AM EST
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It's a good thing that asteroid 2012DA14 missed Earth, or else we'd all be screwed.

While a meteor did hit the Ural region of Russia on Friday, injuring 1200 and shattering thousands of windows, it could have been worse. Way worse.

The 11,000 ton, 55 foot wide meteor broke up above the surface of Earth, created a window-shattering sonic boom, and then smashed through the surface of a frozen lake outside Chelyabinsk, Russia. It's estimated that the space rock released 18 times the amount of energy as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, equal to about 300 kilotons of TNT.

However, if the asteroid that did a close flyby on Friday, 2012DA14 had hit Earth, we'd all be in big trouble. Of course, "close" is relative: the asteroid came within about 17,000 miles of our planet. But while this may seem far, far away, it's actually closer than satellites currently in geosynchronous orbit around the Earth.

Had 2012DA14 hit, it would have cause much more damage than Friday's impact. The near-miss asteroid is about 150 feet wide and estimated to weigh about 200,000 tons. If it hadn't missed, the destruction would have been massive. For comparison, the asteroid involved in the Tunguska event in 1908, is estimated to have been about 120 feet in diameter, and this asteroid flattened about 800 square miles in largely uninhabited Siberia.

Chances are, if the bigger asteroid had hit Earth, it probably would have missed land, instead plunging into the oceans that make up 70 percent of the Earth's surface. We would not be out of the woods if that happened, as the tsunamis created by the impact would be enormous.

We're all really lucky that 2012DA14 wasn't on a collision course, or else we might have had to call Bruce Willis and Aerosmith.

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