We were taught as children about space-borne calamity and planet earth thanks to the prevailing theory that a massive galactic piece of rock and what it did to the dinosaurs. This asteroid slammed into our planet with the sort of force that we cannot imagine today, even in this nuclear age. The aftermath was even worse than the original blast, filling the atmosphere with a thick layer of soot, ash, and smoke that insulated us from the sun, cooling the planet down, and killing a vast majority of life on our planet.
Certainly sounds terrifying, right? Well, what if you were told that another space rock, this time large enough to level an entire city, snuck past global detection in July, skimming right by planet earth.
Earth had a near-miss incident with a large asteroid on Wednesday. The fast-moving asteroid measuring about 100 meters in diameter edged closer to the Earth than the moon.
Kris Stanek monitors the sky for the group All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae, or ASAS-SN, at The Ohio State University. The group observed the giant space rock, known as Asteroid 2019 OK, just before it passed by Earth.
He says the asteroid sort of “snuck up on us,” partly because of its trajectory — coming from the direction of the sun.
— ASAS-SN (@SuperASASSN) July 25, 2019
As if that weren’t terrifying enough, Stanek added:
“The large rocks we’ve known for quite a while. The first one was discovered in the 1800s. We’ve been discovering thousands of them. But the size distribution is such that there are many small rocks, and only now do we have the technology to be able to find them. Again, this was unusual because it snuck up on us and because it came mostly from the direction of the sun. We were only able to see it on the last day and that was actually done using very small telescopes, not the bigger ones that usually discover these things.”
For many scientists, it is only a matter of time before one of these gargantuan stones comes calling for us, and, even with advanced detection, there is little that we can do by prepare.
Near-misses like this only occur once every few years, but humans should be paying more attention to the potentially devastating threat they pose.