Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:December 16th, 2008 11:30 EST
Near Earth Objects

Impacts: Are They a Threat? You bet your asteroids!

By Clinton Van Inman



Nothing captures our attention concerning space as much as a near miss asteroid. Near miss asteroid encounters are relatively common, and more distressingly more common than we think. In 2007 reported that there were a total of 17 objects than came closer to us than the moon. We know that sooner or later we will be struck again by one of these asteroids that are responsible for mass extinctions and global changes on Earth. The Earth has been struck many times in the past and would resemble the moon`s pockmarked face except for the Earth`s weather that erodes its scars away. What is frightening to know is that astronomers can only detect about one percent of the asteroids that approach the vicinity of the Earth. This means that if a large asteroid were to be approaching us head on, what can we really do about it? Despite all the political clamor and Hollywood heroics, there really isn`t much we can do other than duck and cover. Astronomers predict that a large asteroid, capable of reeking mass extinctions and global changes, should strike the Earth about once every 100 million years or so. This asteroid would be about 10 miles in diameter and the probability of this happening in 2009, astronomers tell us, is approximately .00000002. This is about as much chance as winning the lottery. But the sizes of asteroids increase exponentially the smaller they get. (There are more smaller pebbles than larger ones.) A smaller asteroid capable of destroying a city the size of New York should occur ever 100 years or so. The probability of a blockbuster capable of flattening New York can be easily calculated: the surface area of New York compared to the rest of the Earth.  This comes out to 670,000 to 1 and this multiplied by .002. Again, these are pretty safe odds, but not absolutely safe. It is just a question of time before our world will be rocked. 


Probably what you don`t know is that you and your home were hit by an asteroid last night while you were sleeping. Each year millions of tons of small sized meteorites and micrometeorites strike the Earth. These collect on any flattened surface, like the rooftop of your house. They will settle there until rain water will eventually wash them down your storm drain. Find any magnet and run the magnet along the bottom of your storm drains especially on the ground around them. Your magnet soon will be covered with bits and pieces of iron deposits, most of which are junk, " but others will be micrometeorites! These, under a small microscope will appear round. Each one of them is over 4.6 billion years old having been formed with the creation of the solar system! Are impacts real? You bet your micrometeorites!

Near Earth Objects