Very Early Warning: 1-in-1,000 Chance of Asteroid Impact in 2182

Ian O’Neill writes on Discovery News:
Impact

This isn’t an urgent call to arms, but it’s certainly a future date to consider. In the year 2182 — 172 years time — there’s the possibility that we might be hit by an asteroid with potential to cause some significant global turmoil.

This long-distance forecast could help mankind determine whether asteroid deflection techniques are warranted, especially when given nearly two centuries of lead time.

The not-so-romantically named (101955) 1999 RQ36 — discovered in 1999 — measures approximately 510 meters in diameter and is classified as an Apollo asteroid. Apollo asteroids pose a threat to our planet as they routinely cross Earth’s orbit.

With a one-in-a-thousand chance of 1999 RQ36 hitting Earth — with half of this probability indicating a 2182 impact — the threat might not sound too acute.

But compare this with the panic that ensued with the discovery of 99942 Apophis in 2004. Initially, it was thought there was a 1-in-233 chance of Apophis hitting us in 2029. This estimate was alarming; it was the first time an asteroid had been promoted to “Level 4″ on the Torino Scale — a near-Earth object (NEO) impact hazard categorization method.

Read More: Discovery News

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