Whenever we hear about a new asteroid threatening to hit our planet, we now instantly think that it is another paranoia. And it is absolutely normal, being told so many times that the end of the Earth is near and we are to experience apocalypse soon.
Yet, remember the date: May 6, 2022, as Earth could face its demise from a ginormous, continent-flattening asteroid. There is a small chance that this dangerous lump of space rock, called JF1, could wallop our planet.
Back in 2009, it was first discovered by NASA, and their automated asteroid watching system Sentry has been keeping an eye on it over the last ten years.
‘Sentry is a highly automated collision monitoring system that continually scans the most current asteroid catalogue for possibilities of future impact with Earth over the next 100 years.”
JF1 has been designated as a ‘near-Earth object’ (NEO), so it is in the Sun’s orbit and presents a ‘threat’ to the Earth.
According to a NASA spokesperson:
“Some asteroids and comets follow orbital paths that take them much closer to the Sun and therefore Earth than usual. If a comet’s or asteroid’s approach brings it to within 1.3 astronomical units of the Sun, we call it a near-Earth object.”
Considering the fact that one astronomical unit equates to around 93 million miles, it is not exactly close, but what troubles experts is that JF1 measures around 130 meters in diameter.
In case it makes landfall, it would collide with the force of 230 kilotonnes of TNT. As in illustration, note that the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 exploded with the force of 15 kilotonnes of TNT.
Scientists maintain that if JF1 were to hit a populated area, it would wipe out an entire city instantly, potentially leading to millions of deaths.
They also warn that even if it were to splash down in the remotest part of the Pacific Ocean, it would still cause devastating tsunamis and a “nuclear winter” that could severely impact life on our planet.
According to a 2018 White House report on the dangers of an asteroid impact:
“Larger NEOs greater than 140 meters would have the potential to inflict severe damage to entire regions or continents. Such objects would strike Earth with a minimum energy of over 60 megatons of TNT, which is more than the most powerful nuclear device ever tested. Fortunately, these are far less common and are easier to detect and track than smaller NEOs.”
NASA stated that that Sentry ‘continually scans the most current asteroid catalogue for possibilities of future impact with Earth over the next 100 years’.
Additionally, this should not worry you too much, as the space agency places the odds of JF1 actually hitting us at 0.026%.
Yet, even though there is a “small but appreciable chance” the JF1 could strike the planet, due to its sheer size, which is roughly the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza, it will continue to be monitored.