Potentially Hazardous Asteroids, Where?

Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech

Orbits of Over 1000 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech

The fact is, there are a lot of potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs). The image above shows the orbits of known PHAs. One look at that image is enough to put a worrisome feeling in the stomach of even the most fearless. What’s worse? There’s still many more undiscovered asteroids out there!

Keep in mind that the term “potentially hazardous asteroid” is a reference to the hazard an asteroid poses, and not representative of the asteroids size alone. Although most of these asteroids aren’t large enough to create an “Armageddon-like” scenario, an impact from any one of them could result in a catastrophic tsunami.

Scientists tasked with the job of mapping PHAs trajectories are also working hard to find others. NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has given us new insight into the number of PHA’s. The chart below shows us the new predictions based off of the WISE.

Near Earth Asteroid (WISE)

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

In short, the data tells us that there is only a small difference in the amount of possibly apocalyptic asteroids, but a vast difference in the amount of smaller asteroids. Okay, so that doesn’t sound so great either…

Not to worry! Scientists working on these projects report that none of the known asteroids (trajectories shown in the first image) should hit within the next 100 years. In fact, the longer they track the asteroids, the more accurately they can define the orbits. I guess that’s sort of reassuring.

Still worried? You can always head on over to NASA’s Asteroid Watch for the most up to date information.


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