An explosion with the power of 150 Hiroshima bombs could leave an apocalyptic scenario on Earth in 2022. Much was made of the end of the world in 2012, but it seems that according to NASA, this prediction could happen ten years later, that is, next year.
Is that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, for its acronym in English) has defined as “potentially dangerous” to asteroid 2009 JF1, as it could impact the Earth on March 6, 2022 at 08:34 hours, as reported by the space agency, although it also estimates that the probability of impact is 1 in 3,800 (0.026%).
The date set for the collision has been specified after the exhaustive observation of the asteroid through a collision monitoring system of the US space agency that classifies objects near the planet according to their size, speed, dimensions and year in which they are believe the impact will occur.
This space rock is considered “potentially dangerous” by NASA, which has qualified as a Near Earth Object (NEO), which means it is close enough to be considered a threat to Earth. Asteroids are celestial bodies, which move in orbits, either of low or considerable eccentricity around the Sun, and whose inclination on the elliptical can be of any angle.
“Some asteroids and comets follow orbital paths that take them much closer to the Sun than usual and, therefore, to the Earth,” NASA explains in a statement. These asteroids are constantly monitored by the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, using an automated system called Sentry. This system manages to measure a large amount of data that allows us to determine, for example, that 2009JF1 is an Apollo asteroid, that is, that its orbit around the Sun is larger than that of the Earth.
According to NASA, “Sentry is a highly automated collision monitoring system that continuously scans the most current asteroid catalog for possibilities of future impact with Earth for the next 100 years. Whenever a potential impact is detected it will be analyzed and the results will be published immediately here, except in rare cases where we seek independent confirmation. It is normal that, as additional observations become available, objects will disappear from this table when there are no longer detections of possible impacts. For this reason, we maintain a list of deleted objects with the date of elimination ”.
Asteroid 2009 JF1 is currently 375,587,595 km from the planet, approaching 18 km towards us every second. It flies past Earth at an incredible speed, at 65,293 kilometers per hour. The Space Agency viewed it through Sentry in 2009, estimating it to be around 13 meters in diameter. Its impact against the Earth could cause an explosion equivalent to 230 kilotons of dynamite. You have to calculate that the Hiroshima bomb had only fifteen kilotons of power.
Although the probability of collision is very low, smaller rocks that usually accompany the space body can enter our atmosphere, burn in it as they descend to the ground, creating meteors and meteorites that we often see as showers of stars in the night sky.
Missions to attack or deflect asteroids
Space agencies are currently working to develop missions to attack these asteroids that pose a threat to the planet and be able to divert them from their path.
Such is the case of the DART spacecraft, which will be launched in mid-2021 with the aim of colliding with Dimorphos, one of the most dangerous asteroids for Earth due to its characteristics. DART belongs to NASA’s Hera mission in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA).
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