Armageddon isn’t coming true anytime soon. According to one new study, scientists believe no catastrophic asteroids will hit Earth at any point within the next 1,000 years, saving the next handful of generations from another Ice Age. Davide Farnocchia, an astronomer with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) helped lead a team that pored over a sizable catalog of NEOs (Near-Earth Objects), plotting their courses over the next few centuries.
“Our focus was on the objects larger than 1 kilometer, and we tried to rank them in terms of their associated risk of impact over 1,000 years, which is a longer time span than we usually analyze,” Farnocchia said in a new interview with Space.com. “Thanks to the Sentry impact monitoring system, we already know that none of the large NEOs that have been discovered so far has any risk of impacting Earth over the next 100 years. We also know that none of the smaller objects already discovered is of concern in terms of impact hazard over the next 100 years.”
While some smaller asteroids may reach the planet, it’s expected no celestial bodies that could cause an extinction-level event will find itself on a crash-course with Earth anytime soon.
“We focused on objects of the 0.62 miles, or 3,300 feet (1 kilometer), range and larger because they are the ones that have the potential to cause global-scale damage if they were to reach the Earth,” Farnocchia added.
What is NASA’s DART program?
Should such an asteroid be on a flight path towards Earth, NASA may be able to redirect it should the agency get enough warning. Last October, the outfit successfully redirected the path of an asteroid by purposefully crashing a satellite into its surface.
“All of us have a responsibility to protect our home planet. After all, it’s the only one we have,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at the time. “This mission shows that NASA is trying to be ready for whatever the universe throws at us. NASA has proven we are serious as a defender of the planet. This is a watershed moment for planetary defense and all of humanity, demonstrating commitment from NASA’s exceptional team and partners from around the world.”
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