When you look at the countless asteroids in our solar system, you realize how lucky we are to have survived so far. This chance luck was shaved pretty close recently when a bus-sized asteroid came unusually close to Earth.
The asteroid, named HL129, was only recently discovered by the Mount Lemmon Survey team. According to NASA, it was 7.6 meters wide and passed at a distance of 186,000 miles from Earth. In terms of cosmic distances, this was a very close encounter, given that even the closest heavenly body to Earth, the Moon, is at 238,855 miles from Earth when it’s closest.
If the asteroid had indeed hit the planet, it’s point of collision would’ve been the most significant factor. Normally, asteroids often hit unpopulated areas such as the Pacific Ocean, but if an asteroid of this size had hit a major city, it would have wrecked a lot of havoc. Scientists estimate that its impact would’ve been nearly half the impact of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb.
Although small in size, when asteroids enter Earth’s atmosphere, they either burn away in space or are trimmed down due to friction before they hit Earth’s surface. The hit happens at extraordinary speeds which is why asteroids have the capacity to bring a lot of damage to our planet.
As such, there is really no way of countering these asteroids. Earth has survived them for a long, long time simply out of sheer luck. However, the case of HL129 shows that despite many advancements in space exploration, we may yet be hit with an asteroid unawares, which is an alarming scenario.
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