An asteroid has just been added to the ESA’s Risk List which astronomers believe could collide with the Earth in just a few decades.
Asteroids known as Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are closely monitored by space agencies, as they’re some of the most dangerous objects in the atmosphere.
One in particular, known as asteroid 2019 SU3, was just added to the ESA’s Risk List, thanks to the high chance it could hit Earth in as soon as 70 years from now.
At time of writing, there are currently 897 Near Earth Objects being monitored by the European Space Agency.
As they say on their website:
The Risk List is a catalogue of all objects for which a non-zero impact probability has been detected.
Each entry contains details on the Earth approach posing the highest risk of impact (as expressed by the Palermo Scale). It includes its date, size, velocity and probability.
As well as sitting high on the Risk List, asteroid 2019 SU3 is also on the ESA’s Priority List, which ‘addresses the problem of efficiently planning and executing NEO follow-up observations. It classifies the need to observe especially newly discovered objects into four categories, urgent, necessary, useful and low priority.’
According to the ESA, asteroid SU3 is expected to come within 0.00079 astronomical units to Earth, which is approximately 73,000 miles, or 30 percent of the distance between the Earth and the moon.
Scientists predict it’ll pass our Earth in the 2084. According to NASA, asteroids which come within 0.05 astronomical units of Earth, and measure at least 460 feet in diametre, are known as ‘potentially hazardous’ NEOs.
Last month, the ESA warned even a small asteroid colliding with Earth could cause ‘serious devastation.’
In order to protect the Earth and catch the rocks before they make landfall, the ESA has joined together with other groups to search for asteroids, as well as developing methods to divert space rocks away from our planet.
The agency’s warning came after NASA said an asteroid bigger than the Empire State Building was passing ‘close’ by our planet. The space rock, called the 2000 QW7, skimmed past Earth at more than 14,000 miles per hour on September 14 – I mean, it was around 3 million miles away, but still, NASA consider that to be a ‘close approach.’
NASA and the ESA are both tracking asteroid 2019 SU3 and its future plans to skim past Earth.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.