It has happened before, and it will inevitably happen again sometime in our lifetime.
We are, in our simplest form as earthlings, passengers on a giant hunk of rock blasting through the void of space at several thousand miles per hour. Our orbit, while divinely perfect for sustaining life on our Goldilocks planet, also comes with its own perils.
Several times a year, for instance, the entire planet passes through meteor and asteroid belts, collecting “shooting stars” the same way our bumpers collect bugs when driving through the south during summer road trips. Most of these impacts are light, and they do tend to light up our sky with wondrous space shows, but they imply a real danger.
When objects from outside of our normal orbit head toward earth, however, danger is not far off.
Such is the case with a rather large space rock that will be making an appearance in our vicinity in just a matter of months.
An enormous asteroid with a diameter wider than a football field has a roughly one in 7,000 chance of hitting the Earth later this year. However, it’s nothing to lose sleep over.
Known as asteroid 2006 QV89, the space rock, which has a diameter of 164 feet, could potentially hit the planet on Sept. 9, 2019, according to a list of the most concerning space objects compiled by the European Space Agency. The ESA has 2006 QV89 ranked fourth on its top ten list.
According to current modeling, it’s likely that 2006 QV89, which is on the risk list but not the priority list, will pass Earth at a distance of more than 4.2 million miles. The ESA does note that the likelihood of its model being off is less than one-hundredth of one percent.
We’ve been aware of the risk of QV89 for approximately thirteen years.
While impacts of such size are rare, they have occurred in recent years. Just over a century ago a massive space rock’s impact flatten hundreds of miles for forest in what has come to be known as the Tunguska incident.
More recently, a massive meteor impact was caught on camera, again in Russia.
While experts are only slightly concerned about September’s close call, preparation never hurt anybody.
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