(ORDO NEWS) — It is reassuring to know that there are people who are literally paid to watch the night sky to ensure that we are at least informed if an asteroid hits Earth.
Technology and near-Earth exploration technologies have become so advanced that the possibility of a killer planet-sized asteroid appearing out of nowhere, which is so common in today’s media depictions, is extremely unlikely.
Even smaller ones that would only destroy cities or parts of the continent, attract enough attention to determine if they pose a threat or not.
And ahead of Asteroid Day 2022 on June 30, ESA is proud to announce that they have succeeded in removing one of the most dangerous asteroids from the list of potential impacts.
The asteroid, known as 2021 QM1, was first discovered at the Mount Lemmon Observatory on August 28, 2021. It was just one of about a dozen near-Earth asteroids that were discovered that night and initially did not cause any alarm. But subsequent observations have shown that around 2052 it may be on the verge of approaching the Earth.
Top: GIF image of QM3 2021’s orbital path around the Earth and Sun.
Approximately 50 meters (160 feet) in diameter, 2021 QM1 will have enough power to release the equivalent of nearly six megatons of TNT into the atmosphere at an altitude of just 9 kilometers (6 miles). To compare it to the most commonly used metric for high energy strikes, 400 times stronger than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Only once in recent history has an asteroid of this size collided with Earth. Fortunately, Tunguska, which released a whopping 12 megatons of energy and is memorialized on the annual Asteroid Day, happened over a remote part of Siberia. forest, only about three people are believed to have died in the event. But if such an impact occurred over a populated area, the result could be catastrophic.
This event was no doubt in the minds of asteroid defenders as they collected additional data on 2021 QM1.
Unfortunately for their nerves, another astronomical event would have put them on edge for a while. The asteroid disappeared behind the Sun for several months, making further observations impossible.
Patience is a virtue for most scientists, so they waited patiently and planned to collect more data with one of the best weapons on their asteroid. -hunting arsenal – Very Large Telescope.
When an asteroid appeared from behind the Sun, they were ready. And they managed to take a picture of the faintest asteroid ever observed.
This observation showed them that there is a 0 percent chance that 2021 QM1 will hit Earth in 2052, as originally predicted. Its orbital path will not pose any danger for the foreseeable future.
2021 QM1 is not the first asteroid to be removed from the list of dangerous asteroids after a suboptimal blocking maneuver by another celestial body.
In February, the ESA removed another asteroid from the list after the moon blocked observations. At that time, 2022, AE1, as the asteroid is known, had a much closer potential impact window of July 4, 2023.
The 70-meter cliff could have caused even more damage than 2021 QM1 and could potentially have been the most destructive fireworks of all time.
All this begs the question: what will we do if another asteroid with a potential impact is found? There are many plans, and they are better discussed in other articles, but, of course, the Asteroid Defenders teams will continue to keep an eye on them.
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