How big is the asteroid threat, really? - Space.com

How big is the asteroid threat, really? - Space.com

How big is the asteroid threat, really? - Space.com
Sep 20, 2022 2 mins, 3 secs

As humanity prepares for its first-ever planetary defense practice mission, NASA officials recently reassured Earthlings that they have very little to worry about.

NASA, international agencies, and telescopes around the world have been scouring the skies systematically for more than a generation, seeking out any evidence of asteroids that may pose a serious threat to human civilization.

Only a short list of space rocks are deemed threatening at all, with NASA saying there's nothing to worry about for the next century at least. .

"We're constantly looking in the skies for potential new asteroids and threats," Andrea Riley, DART program executive at NASA, said during a press conference on Sept.

"This test," Riley said of DART, "will help give us confidence that we do have a mitigation strategy should a threat ever be identified.".

NASA is seeking a low-cost solution to work out any kinks now, when asteroid defense is not an urgent problem, he said.

Scientists will study the sample to assess the composition of that asteroid, in part to better refine how to move such objects around in space!

Over time, the Yarkovsky effect may affect an asteroid's orbit; as such, NASA is including thermal effects in its model "to really knock down the biggest uncertainties for orbit propagation over long periods," he said.

This is a forthcoming NASA mission that will seek more asteroids in space and also aim to better predict their pathways around the solar system. .

While scientists are doing their best to protect Earth from a space rock problem, the DART mission's Nancy Chabot urged perspective in thinking about the real threat of asteroids. .

There are only four near-Earth asteroids that are similar to the object that killed the dinosaurs, which is thought to have had a diameter of about 6.5 miles (10 km), said Chabot, who is DART coordination lead at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Research Laboratory.

Scientists have found more than 95% of objects that are more than 0.6 miles (1 km) in diameter, and none of those pose an immediate threat either, she said.

While the known objects are not a threat scientists worry about, finding more would enhance our planetary defense, she said. .

Learning to manipulate such objects in space may prevent "regional devastation, [which] could be the size of a city or a small state or a small country," she said.

"That is why Dimorphos is such a perfect target for this first planetary defense mission, because it's that size.".

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