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Risk of catastrophic asteroid impact ‘real’ – White House

The US government has proposed an increased global effort to locate 300,000 or so Earth-impact risks and prepare for potential future meteor collisions that could destroy cities

Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are defined as asteroids or comets that come near our planet’s orbit. A recently released White House document entitled ‘National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy’ details how low-probability, high consequence impacts pose a “significant and complex challenge”.

Russia, Chelyabinsk: Meteor shower hits Earth!

The report says that while a “civilization-ending” smash with space rocks over the next 200 years is unlikely, the risk of “smaller but still catastrophic NEO impacts is real.”

“Current estimates of the NEO population predict that over 300,000 objects greater than 40 meters [131ft] in size could be an impact hazard to the Earth and have not yet been detected,” the strategy warns.

It suggests little is known about the location of many smaller NEOs which are similar in size to the 20 meter-Chelyabinsk fireball which lit up skies above Russia in 2013.

Though on the lower end of the size scale, the powerful airburst filmed above the Russian city exploded with 20-30 times the energy of an atomic bomb and caused skin and retinal burns on people below it.


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