One of the most worrying questions that weigh on the minds of scientists, astronomers as well as the general public is whether the Earth is threatened by a potential asteroid collision? Despite being addressed by the scientific community, this question crops up time and again. Now, a NASA scientist has tried to put all speculation to rest. In a video shared on YouTube, asteroid expert Davide Farnocchia, of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said there was no asteroid threat to Earth in terms of impact hazard.
The caption of the video reads, “Is NASA aware of any Earth-threatening asteroids? Luckily, there are no known asteroid threats to Earth for at least 100 years. But that doesn’t mean we’re not looking.” NASA goes on to add that “asteroid expert Davide Farnocchia of our NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory breaks it down”.
“There is no asteroid that we know of that is concerning in terms of impact hazard,” Farnocchia says, Asteroid impacts have happened in the past and can happen in the future too. But Farnocchia said that those were “rare events”.
“An asteroid impact that could cause serious regional damage only happens every few thousand years or even longer. Still, it’s a good idea to protect us against that possibility, and the rule of the game is find the asteroid before they find us,” Farnocchia added.
He further states that this is why NASA has been funding search programmes for more than 20 years to “observe the sky pretty much every single night to find and track asteroids”.
So far, the US space agency has discovered over a million asteroids, including 95 percent of the asteroids that are greater than a kilometre and could come close to the Earth.
Farnocchia added that once NASA scientists discover an asteroid, they project its motion into the future to find out if there’s a possibility of a collision with the Earth. They rank each asteroid on a risk-ranking scale, called Torino scale. “It goes from zero, which is lowest risk, to 10, which is highest risk,” he says.
The good news is that for all the asteroids NASA has discovered so far, the Torina scale is zero. That means “lowest risk for the next 100 years”, he added.
Watch the video here:
According to a NASA ‘Did You Know’ explainer, the “highest risk of impact for a known asteroid is a 1 in 714 chance of impact by an asteroid designated 2009 FD in 2185, meaning that the possibility that it could impact then is less than 0.2 percent”.
Another asteroid NASA is closely monitoring is called Bennu. It has a 1/ 2,700 chance of impacting Earth between 2175 and 2195.