We are lucky enough to be living the most tranquil era in the history of our solar system. It is difficult to conceptualize a period approximately 4 billion years back when Earth was regularly hit by enormous comets and asteroids. Scientists theorize one such event brought carbon-rich and water materials to Earth, which subsequently contributed to the emergence of life on our planet. Although the likelihood of massive hits from a comet or an asteroid that can cause widespread damage is low, an asteroid hitting Earth probability should still be calculated. So will an asteroid hit Earth soon is a question in many people’s minds these days.
What protects us from asteroids and their hits?
After an asteroid hit Earth and killed dinosaurs, there was less chaos in our solar system. Many objects that now collide with Earth’s atmosphere are so small that they swiftly evaporate upon entering our atmosphere. The atmosphere can indeed protect us from smaller objects that are in direct collision with our planet, but there are still celestial bodies in orbits closer to Earth. These are referred to as NEOs, which stand for near-Earth objects. And an asteroid is no small NEO.
But will an asteroid hit Earth any time soon? Good news is that the chances of this happening are very slight. Besides, the Sun and the Moon also contribute to offering us protection against dangerous objects. According to science and logic, larger planets in our solar system protect us from being hit by a NEO because they have stronger gravity. Therefore, an asteroid expected to hit Earth would first have to pass Jupiter, Moon, or Sun before hitting us.
When is the next asteroid predicted to hit the Earth?
Scientists are often asked when will an asteroid hit Earth, so Orbital Today decided to find an answer. We know that there will be a close approach on April 13, 2029, at 21:46 UT, when the Apophis asteroid will come closest to Earth. It will pass our planet closer than any geosynchronous communication satellite, yet it won’t come closer to colliding with us than 31,600 km (19,600 miles). This will be Apophis’s closest approach so far.
And we had another close encounter this year, too. According to NASA, a massive space rock given the designation 2022 KY4 safely avoided Earth by around 6.1 million km (3.8 million miles) on July 17. This is over 16 times the typical distance at which the Earth is from the Moon. This was this NEO’s closest approach in about 100 years, it seems. Asteroid 2022 KY4 has a diameter of about 88 m (290 feet) and is moving at around 27,000 km (16,900 miles) per hour.
Will an asteroid hit Earth? What would happen then?
The likes of an asteroid hitting Earth are very slim. Not only NASA, but also other space agencies are keeping a careful eye on what’s happening out there. The very remote possibility of a NEO’s orbit shifting after interacting with a large object’s gravity and putting that asteroid on a collision course with us exists but is extremely low. However, if it happens, then we should indeed be very scared.
Effects of an asteroid hitting Earth would very much depend on how big this object would be, along with a few other factors. For example, if an asteroid strikes the ground, a significant quantity of dust will be thrown up. If it were to collide with water, water vapour coming up in the air would increase rainfall, which would lead to mudslides and landslides. And let’s not forget about the tragic effects of this impact. An area where it would hit would be destroyed completely.
Can we stop an asteroid from hitting Earth?
Most people are asking will an asteroid hit Earth because they are mostly interested — can asteroid be destroyed? And since the asteroid Bennu has one chance in 1,750 to collide with our planet in 2182, we could indeed think about what we could do to stop or destroy it. Rest assured, scientists are taking care of the problem and coming up with all sorts of solutions and hypotheses that would help us sleep better at night because our planet will be safe for many millions of years from now on.
The most effective idea we can put into practice if an asteroid threatens to hit Earth would be directing an item with a large mass that’s close to our planet’s mass towards this object, causing it to deviate from its path. When the asteroid would still be at an increased distance from Earth, we could deflect it by directly modifying its momentum. But scientists are working on other methods, too, so for now, we can sleep easy knowing that no space rock is about to hit any time soon.