This is an artist's depiction of an asteroid colliding with Earth.
Click on image for full size
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 rocks could change the Earth substantially and
possibly wipe out millions of people and animals.
"If a one-kilometer asteroid hit the Earth, it would launch massive amount of
dirt and debris in the atmosphere. The smaller pieces take some time to rain
out," one scientist said. "During that time, all that material is blocking the sun from heating the planet. So it gets cooler on the planet and agriculture worldwide is disrupted."
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 catastrophe.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
You might also be interested in:
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more
During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...more
In late April through mid-May 2002, all five naked-eye planets are visible simultaneously in the night sky! This is includes Mercury which is generally very hard to see because of its proximity to the...more