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Asteroids More Likely to Hit Earth

A hole made in ice by the Chelyabinsk meteorite. Photo credit to Eduard Kalinin.

A hole made in ice by the Chelyabinsk meteorite. Photo credit to Eduard Kalinin.

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Scientists have found that asteroids are seven times more likely to strike Earth than previously thought since the February meteorite strike on Chelyabinsk, Russia.

Although these scientists over-estimated the blast impact, they under-estimated the heat damage and shockwave damage of possible meteorite strikes.

The Chelyabinsk meteorite demonstrated the damage that an average meteorite could do. It entered the Earth’s atmosphere at about 42,500 miles per hour, weighing 13,000 tons, and measured 62 feet across. That same day, a 131 foot asteroid skimmed past the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Russian meteorite was the most filmed meteorite of all time. All of the videos taken of the rock have given scientists more information than they could have known if bystanders hadn’t taken out their cellphones to tape the rare occurrence.

How much damage can a meteorite do? In 1908 a meteorite hit Russia and knocked down 830 square miles of forest.

Edward T. Lu, a former NASA astronaut, has launched the B162 Foundation which will “build, launch, and operate an infrared space telescope to find and track the hundreds of thousands of threatening asteroids that cannot be tracked with current telescopes.” The United Nations General Assembly is also trying to establish an International Asteroid Warning Network which describes their mission “to discover, monitor, and physically characterize the potentially hazardous” asteroid population. Many countries are working together in an effort to protect the planet.

Future meteor strikes may not be so sudden, though. The Chelyabinsk meteorite was undetected because it entered the atmosphere with the sun behind it, making it difficult to see. Other meteors may not be so clever and spare the Earth some damage.

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Asteroids More Likely to Hit Earth