Will an Asteroid Ever Hit Earth? This question has certainly made people anxious and curious about the possibility.
Knowing how an asteroid impact on Earth might have led to the extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Mesozoic Era 65 million years ago makes people more concerned about its destructive might. Watching such disaster movies as "Armageddon" does not ease the tension for sure.
NASA Says Asteroid Threats Rare: In 'Scales of Hundreds to Millions of Years'
To address these worries, NASA released a video featuring asteroid expert Kelly Fast, who finally gave a definitive answer to these concerns.
Fast gave a direct answer: "Yes."
She explained asteroids did hit the Earth in the past and will do so in the future. But she clarified that won't happen anytime soon since it doesn't occur that often. Fast said such strikes happen on "time scales of hundreds to thousands to millions of years."
It helps to note that NASA has strengthened its capability in spotting and monitoring such threats, Cnet posted. Currently, the U.S. space agency is tracking the most pressing threat, asteroid Bennu.
Bennu is seen to make its nearest approach to Earth in 2135 and while it may not pose any serious threat of an impact, the Earth's gravity could change the asteroid's trajectory and increase the chances of a collision during the close encounter.
Asteroid Bennu Has Low Impact Probability to Hit Earth
However, findings from the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft show that such impact probability is quite miniscule--1 in 2,700 or 0.037 percent that Bennu will hit the Earth on its target pass on September 24, 2182. That's a near 100 percent chance it will spare our planet. As for the next centuries through 2300, the chance would be 1 in 1,750 or 0.057 percent, NASA added.
Meanwhile, NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office tweeted that there are no expected asteroid impact threats in the next 100 years, Cnet further reported.
Will an asteroid ever hit Earth? There are no known #asteroid impact threats to Earth for the next century, but small meteoroids disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere all the time!— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) August 25, 2021
Dr. Kelly Fast, one of our #PlanetaryDefense experts, tells us more: https://t.co/DdVoFv4n4w pic.twitter.com/W8ORMplFSd
NASA Preparing DART, HAMMER Deflector Missions
Even with the low probability of an asteroid strike, NASA and other space agencies are preparing for any eventuality that a space rock would pose a threat. NASA is set to launch a Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), a planetary defense mission that will smash a spacecraft into a moonlet to find out if such an impact could change its path. Should it work, the same method will be used to veer an incoming asteroid away from Earth.
NASA is also lining up its HAMMER or Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response study aimed to use spacecraft as a kinetic or nuclear asteroid deflector. Around 34 to 53 HAMMER strikes are needed 10 years before an expected asteroid collision with Earth to put it off course.
While asteroids are indeed on its way, although not in the next century at least, there should be enough warning about such a threat, and allow effective defensive action at the fullest.