An asteroid with the power of three billion nuclear missiles narrowly avoided Earth earlier this month, so congratulations everyone you survived a brush with extinction.
According to China’s Purple Mountain Laboratory, who discovered the asteroid, the interstellar space rock passed our planet at a distance of 18.8 times the distance between the Earth and the moon, around 4,491,320 miles, on September 5.
While it may sound like the meteor was pretty far away, in astronomical terms it was close enough to get more than a few astronomers sweating, AOL reports.
The asteroid’s known as 2009ES and is one of 1,600 other asteroids called ‘minor bodies’ that orbit close to the Earth which scientists monitor in case their flight path changes.
Asteroids can have there courses altered when the gravity of other planets interferes with their orbit, potentially flinging them into other planets.
Zhao Haibin from the Purple Mountain Laboratory explained:
[Minor planets] trajectories could be changed by stellar attraction from planets such as Mars. Continuous observation is needed to keep track of any changes.Advertisement
Were 2009ES to collide with the Earth the effects would be apocalyptic and scientists estimate that if an asteroid measuring 10,000 meters across collided with the Earth it could potentially release as much energy as 3 billion atomic bombs.
Astronomers believe that an event like this happened 65 million years ago, when an asteroid smashed into the planet wiping out the dinosaurs.
2012, y2k, swine flu, bird flu, foot & mouth and now a near miss with an asteroid, we’re getting good at surviving the end of the world aren’t we?