An asteroid could collide with the Earth in 2014, astronomers have warned.
The British agency responsible for identifying potentially hazardous asteroids says colleagues in the United States have warned that the collision may take place on 21 March of that year.
But scientists have place the chances of the collision as being one in 909,000 – odds that are likely to decrease as more data is gathered. In the meantime they are to keep monitoring its progress because of its sheer size.
The rock measures two thirds of a mile across, a tenth of the size of the asteroid thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs when it crashed into the Gulf Of Mexico 65 million years ago making a fireball across North America that blanketed the world in smoke and ash for decades.
Today’s asteroid is heading in our direction at 20 miles a second. It has been marked “2003 QQ 47″ and astronomers will be keeping an eye on it for the next two months.
Plans to knock rogue asteroids off a potential course towards Earth are currently being studied with funding from the European Space Agency.
The experiment would involve launching a pair of probe space craft, one of which would hit an asteroid at high speed, deflecting it slightly from its orbit, while its partner would keep an eye on it to measure the effects of the impact.
The thought behind the mission is to tell scientists what force of impact would be required to knock an asteroid heading towards our planet off its course.
Tiny changes to QQ47′s path will become much larger over time, hopefully taking it away from a collision.
Other thoughts for diverting asteroids away from include using the United States “Son of Star Wars” anti-missile protection system.
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