Scientists predict doomsday

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By Marcelo Sastre

 

For centuries people have been predicting the end of the world but recently scientists have discovered an asteroid large enough that could destroy life on earth, as we know it on March 16, 2880.

Scientists at NASA have discovered an asteroid named 1950 DA, which if it were to collide with earth would have an impact force of 44,800 megatonnes of TNT. The asteroid was first discovered on the 23rd of February 1950, travelling at a speed of 54,000 km/h with an estimated diameter of two-thirds of a mile long and is due to slam into the Pacific Ocean in approximately 867 years with an average speed of about 61,155 km/h.

At the University of California in Santa Cruz, a simulation of the impact caused by the tsunami has shown that the asteroid would create waves as high as 400 feet sweeping into the Atlantic Ocean.

When the asteroid was first discovered it was observed for 17 days when it faded and was not seen again for half a century when it was rediscovered on the 31st of December 2000, and was recognised as being long-lost asteroid 1950 DA.

Despite the fact that asteroids of this size throughout earth’s history have practically devastated the earth and have thought to bring the dinosauric age to extinction scientists say that there is no cause for concern.

If it is decided that it needs to be diverted, a method that dusts the surface of the asteroid with either chalk or charcoal could be used to change its reflectivity and allow the light from the sun to push the asteroid out of the way.

Meanwhile scientists of planetary research are trying to come up with new ways of reducing the risks of asteroid impacts. There is an estimated 1,400 potentially hazardous asteroids that could pass close to earth or even collide with it.

These asteroids are at least 460 feet to 140 meters in diameter and are considered dangerous because they follow orbits that pass close to earth’s orbit. As part of an effort to tracking these asteroids NASA is working on the development of an infrared sensor, which would improve the chances of tracking hazardous asteroids, which orbit near earth.

The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs over 65 million years ago is estimated to be about 9.7km in diameter, now its fair to say that with an asteroid of this size, the impact it had on the planet was quite catastrophic.

Scientists believe that it was the volcanic eruptions caused by the impact of the asteroid releasing toxic fumes and thick smoke into the air blocking out the sun for a long period of time that caused all life to become extinct.

The Chicxulub crater, which is the name that was given to the crater made by the asteroid, is more than 180 km long and 20 km in depth, and it is believed to be one of the largest confirmed impact structures on earth.

NASA has found that asteroid 1950 DA has a trajectory that for a 20- minute window on March 16, 2880, so the collision with earth is definite and cannot be ruled out. The asteroid is confirmed to have the second fastest spin rate ever observed for an asteroid this size, rotating once every 2.1 hours.

In view of all this information observed in recent years, I think that the topic of asteroids colliding with earth deserves not only attention of scientists but of all humanity as it posses a threat to our very existence.

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