Potentially Hazardous Asteroids Mapped By NASA

Tuesday, 13 August 2013 - 12:20PM
Space
Tuesday, 13 August 2013 - 12:20PM
Potentially Hazardous Asteroids Mapped By NASA

Try not to panic, but all of those blue lines you see in the image above are the orbits of every known potentially hazardous asteroid (PHAs). That's right, every single one of those lines, 1400 in total, has the potential to do a significant amount of damage if it were to come into contact with Earth.

 

Luckily, the experts at NASA say that not all of these objects pose a direct threat to Earth, and even if they did, the threat would be at least 100 years away. In that case, what's the point in the map? Are these boffins all just trying to put the fear of god in us? Well, the map actually serves a very valuable purpose. It helps scientists refine and predict the orbits of PHAs, giving us an incredibly advanced warning should any of them look likely to come too close to Earth.

 

To qualify as a PHA, an asteroid must fulfill two criteria. It must be at least 460 feet in size and it must follow an orbit that takes it within 4.7 million miles of Earth. It's quite staggering then that this map is so congested. 1400 PHAs, and that's only the ones that have been discovered. 

 

NASA are keeping a list of all of these potential offenders, ranking them by the risk they pose to our planet. The current leader is an asteroid known as '2007 VK184'. On a scale of 1 to 10, '2007 VK184' ranks at 1, meaning it will pass close to Earth, but not pose any real danger. 

 

 

 

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NASA
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