Scientists Find Civilization-Threatening Asteroid; Should We Be Scared?

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Scientists Find Civilization-Threatening Asteroid; Should We Worry?

A team of researchers from the National Science Foundation has detected a threatening asteroid that can be devastating for anything that comes in its way. The team leveraged the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile to find this “potentially hazardous” space rock.

 

This is the first time in eight years that astronomers have detected a potentially hazardous asteroid. The one-mile-wide asteroid is capable of destroying all life on Earth if it were to collide with our planet.

Should Earthlings Worry About The Space Rock?

Thankfully, the asteroid called 2022 AP7 is highly unlikely to come close enough to Earth. However, it does get within 4.4 million miles of our planet periodically, The New York Times reports. This distance is around 18 times the distance from Earth to the Moon, which is well within the “potentially hazardous” asteroid zone.

Although the possibility of the 2022 AP7 asteroid colliding with Earth is very slim, if it ever did make an impact, it would be devastating.

"This is what we call a planet killer," astronomer Scott Sheppard told the NYT. "If this one hits the Earth, it would cause planetwide destruction. It would be very bad for life as we know it."

Hazardous Asteroids Going Unnoticed

The 2022 AP7 asteroid is among the three space objects that were hidden due to the Sun’s glare but got detected recently. What makes 2022 Ap7 so dangerous is its size which wouldn’t burn up in our planet’s atmosphere.

According to the NYT, there are more than tens of thousands of similar space rocks out there, but it’s believed that astronomers have managed to discover less than half of them.

This is a major reason that has motivated NASA to launch its DART mission which recently crashed into an asteroid and successfully altered its path. But before sending out spacecraft to crash into these asteroids, we should first be able to detect them before they get too close to our planet.

Why Is NASA’s DART Mission Important?

The DART mission’s success is a huge leap for NASA and its ambition to create a robust planetary defense system that will protect our planet from civilization-ending asteroid strikes.

The data gathered from the DART mission will provide key data in the deployment of future planetary defense missions. While the targeted asteroid wasn’t a threat to Earth, scientists have been constantly looking for potentially hazardous space rocks in the cosmos.

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