Title: Asteroid Apocalypse? Why Scientists Worry About 2036 ‘Planet Buster’
Author: Michio Kaku
Date: Feb 26, 2013
Asteroid Apocalypse? Why Scientists Worry About 2036 ‘Planet Buster’
The recent crash-down in Russia was a fleabite. The one in 2036 could destroy entire nations… [...]
The asteroid packed a huge punch, the power of 20 Hiroshima bombs. It was a “city buster,” capable of flattening a modern metropolis and reducing it to rubble. It was a miracle that the asteroid exploded roughly 10 to 15 miles above ground: had there been a ground burst, it would have caused tens of thousands of casualties. If that asteroid had hit just a few seconds later, it would have created a tragedy on Earth.
[...] Lurking in space are asteroids even bigger than the city busters—to wit, “nation busters” big enough to destroy Germany or England. The most dangerous one is called Apophis, which is 1,000 feet across and will come dangerously close to Earth in 2029 and again in 2036. The most recent calculations show that Apophis will barely miss Earth in 2029, but will actually graze our atmosphere. But because of the uncertainty of its path as it whizzes past, there is a small possibility that its orbit may be perturbed so it might actually hit Earth in 2036. NASA scientists are reasonably confident it will still miss Earth in 2036, but the head of the Russian space agency takes the threat of a collision seriously, stating that we have to prepare for the worst. If Apophis hits Earth, it would have the force of approximately 20,000 Hiroshima bombs.
See also: NASA: Russian meteor was actually a "tiny asteroid" -- Believed to be from belt between Mars and Jupiter
Published: February 23rd, 2013 at 12:17 pm ET