Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Breaking News - Big new asteroid has slim chance of hitting Earth

The scary thing about this asteroid is that we only got two years notice before a possible impact. In this case the odds are low so we're probably OK, but what if the odds were higher? Due to our shortsightedness there would be no time to take any action. We've really got to have a plan and a capability for planetary defense ready at any time - or we deserve to go the way of the dinosaurs.

"A newly discovered asteroid is now the biggest thing known with a possibility of hitting the Earth in this century – and it is also the one that could hit the soonest.

But the odds of impact currently stand at just one in six million, reducing the fear factor somewhat, and these odds should further diminish with additional observations. This latest addition to NASA-JPL's list of potentially hazardous asteroids was discovered on 27 April 2006.

The asteroid, called 2006 HZ51, has an estimated diameter of about 800 metres and is the one of the largest objects ever to make the list. An object of that size would cause widespread devastation if it did strike the Earth. HZ51 also has one of the shortest lead-times to a potential impact of any such object yet found, and the shortest of any potential Earth-impactor currently on the list. The earliest of its 165 possible impact dates is just over two years away, on 21 June 2008."

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