How to determine whether a “killer” asteroid will collide with Earth

According to media CNET, when people in Google News simple search for “asteroids”, there will be a lot of relevant news. For example, “NASA warns that a ‘killer’ asteroid 2 miles wide is heading towards Earth, ” or “… The potential impact date is 2022” or “a tsunami triggered by an asteroid impact… could destroy the coast of the United States. “And” … Monster Rock is heading toward Earth at 17,000 miles per hour. ”

And these are just some of the stories released last week. If you’ve read these shocking headlines, you’ll usually find most accurate information about asteroids that will certainly show that they won’t hit Earth any time soon. Misleading titles and stories draw on the words that scientists use to talk about space objects and the meaning of some of them in everyday language.

For example, the phrases “near-Earth objects” (NEO) and “potentially dangerous asteroids” (PHA) are astronomical terms used to classify objects with very specific definitions. If an asteroid is within 4.6 million miles of Earth and has a certain brightness, it will be classified as PHA. This is actually just a way for astronomers to create a large catalog of objects of interest. No other assessment of an asteroid is evaluated to determine its “potential danger” until it is named.

NEO falls into a broader category. This is a general term for asteroids, comets, and large meteoroids whose orbitintersects the Earth’s orbit and thus has the potential to be at risk of impact.

Some news outlets have begun to sound the alarm about the arrival of asteroid 2006 SF6, which is about to fly close to Earth on November 21. This certainly sounds like a dangerous rock, as can be seen in some headlines,media CNET reporters looked at the European Space Agency (ESA) risk celestial page. ESA maintains a list of “all objects with a detected non-zero collision probability.”

When a reporter clicked to get a complete list of risks and searched the page for 2006SF6 and its directory number 481394, nothing appeared. It does not appear to be on the list of 991 most threatening space objects. Next, the reporter continued to look at a public database on asteroids maintained by NASA’s Near-Earth Research Center at nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He then obtained more information about the 2006 SF6. NASA estimates the asteroid’s diameter is between 919 and 2,690 feet (280 to 820 meters).

Impacting on this skyscraper-sized space rock could cause some practical damage to the Earth. But in 2006 SF6 was about 11.23 earth and moon distances, equivalent to about 2.7 million miles (4.3 million kilometers), when it was closest to Earth. So it poses almost no threat to the earth. However, some of the major threats may come from objects that are not listed on the list.

In 2013, for example, a small object crashed over Russia and exploded, injuring about 1,200 people there. Space rocks were never observed before the explosion.

The techniques used by astronomers have been improved to the extent that new Objects are discovered every day. This includes objects that are actually very close to Earth, but some of them are so small that if they do hit the Earth, they will probably mostly burn in the atmosphere.

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