If you thought that global warming and nuclear attacks could wipe off the Earth, then think again. A huge meteor the size of a mountain could one day accomplish that dreaded task of totally demolishing our planet, say astronomers.
It could happen anytime in the coming decades. A report released by Nature World News explains that about 1,000 asteroids are hurtling towards the Earth at 60,000 miles per hour and that some of them could hit our planet. A number of the near-Earth asteroids have been identified.
However, the news is that there are plenty more waiting to be discovered in the next two years!
Last week, an asteroid known as 2016 SR2 was getting close. Immediately, a Biblical passage sprung to the mind of a number of conspiracy theorists: "A huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turns into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed," according to the Book of Revelation.
With powerful telescopes, experts are trying to gauge how close 2000 ET70 is going to get to the Earth. This two-mile wide space rock stirred astronomers from a number of American universities, who called it a "potentially hazardous asteroid". However, not much is known about this fist-shaped asteroid, says NASA. Such a huge asteroid can decimate the Earth, leading to massive earthquakes, tidal waves and widespread "apocalyptic scenes."
It is possible that the asteroid has already brushed past the Earth in 2012, when it came within 18 lunar distances. That was pretty close! However, it might revisit the planet soon, and come so near us that it could hit us.
Still, we need not fear doomsday, assures NASA. A spokesman said: "NASA knows of no asteroid or comet currently on a collision course with Earth, so the probability of a major collision is quite small. In fact, as best as we can tell, no large object is likely to strike the Earth anytime in the next several hundred years."
With enough investigation, we should be safer. Added the spokesman: "NASA has also made asteroid detection a top priority, and are developing strategies for identifying asteroids that could pose a risk to our planet."
NASA launched OSIRIS-Rex, the first mission to probe and conduct comprehensive surface mapping of asteroid Bennu. It collects samples with the spacecraft's robotic arm and will be studied closely by scientists.
"Astronauts will return to Earth with far more samples than have ever been available for study, which could open new scientific discoveries about the formation of our solar system and beginning of life on Earth," said a NASA official.
Another initiative is to launch a Robot Mission that will deflect the asteroids from their paths.