An artist's rendering of an asteroid heading for Earth.

An artist's rendering of an asteroid heading for Earth.

The Universe Is Throwing Rocks at Us: Scientists ID 4,700-Plus Asteroids That Could Hit Earth, Urge Warning System

Well, not intentionally, of course. But NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) recently identified 4,700 potentially hazardous asteroids, give or take 1,500, with diameters bigger than 330 feet, with orbits that come within five million miles of Mother Earth. To boot, they are big enough to survive passing through Mother Earth’s atmosphere and wreaking havoc on a regional or larger scale, NASA reports.

“So far, an estimated 20 to 30 percent of these objects have been found,” NASA said in a recent statement.

Near Earth Asteroids simulation

In this simulated view of the near-Earth asteroid population, potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) are denoted in orange. Less dangerous near-Earth asteroids are blue. Earth's orbit is green.

The danger was big enough for many experts to urge the world’s nations to create an asteroid-warning system. The Secure World Foundation (SWF) and the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), who held a conference on the issue last November,  presented their findings to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space during a conference in Vienna, reported. It concurs with previous analysis by NASA.

“The NEOWISE analysis shows us we’ve made a good start at finding those objects that truly represent an impact hazard to Earth,” said Lindley Johnson, program executive for the Near-Earth Object Observation Program at NASA Headquarters, in a statement. “But we’ve many more to find, and it will take a concerted effort during the next couple of decades to find all of them that could do serious damage or be a mission destination in the future.”

Daily, more than 40,000 meteorites strike our planet, though most are tiny specks, according to this video below. NASA must track them in case any come close enough to Earth to get sucked into our atmosphere and cause widespread damage. But no fear: Readers can download a near-earth-asteroid app on their iPhones.


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