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This is an artist's depiction of an asteroid colliding with Earth.
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Courtesy of NASA

Scientists Track Asteroids
News story originally written on June 28, 2000

Scientists just created an asteroid map that shows over 900 asteroids that could someday collide with Earth. Any asteroid 1 kilometer long or larger is considered a danger. Even one of these smaller space rock could change the Earth and possibly wipe out millions of people and animals.

Scientists suspect a large asteroid may have crashed into the Earth millions of years ago, wiping out the dinosaurs. Fortunately, 40% of these asteroids are now known, and the computer model used to track these should help scientists discover more. Most of these asteroids are in the belt between Mars and Jupiter. The problem arrives when two or more of these rocks crash into each other, sending one or more off orbit and maybe towards Earth.

As of right now, we can only predict up to 100 years into the future. So unfortunately, we can't look for possible incidents way into the future. Even still, scientists say this is a great start to protecting our planet from another collision.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA