NASA Warns of 72 Percent Chance an Asteroid Hits Earth Next Decade

An asteroid is projected to collide with Earth in 2038, just 14 years from now.

Galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, captured by the James Webb Space Telescope. NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI via AP

NASA has issued a stark warning after a recent simulation determined an asteroid has a 72 percent chance of colliding with Earth in the near future.

The alarming find emerged from a hypothetical scenario involving nearly 100 government representatives from around the globe. In a simulated exercise held by NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the space agency found significant gaps in humanity’s readiness to combat such a threat.

In the hypothetical scenario, an asteroid is projected to collide with Earth in 2038, just 14 years from now. The potential impact areas include major cities across the United States, Europe, and Africa — such as Washington DC, Dallas, Madrid, and Algiers.

NASA’s model predicts that the collision could affect more than 1,000 people with a 47 percent probability, and more than one million people with an 8 percent probability.

Their analysis showed that current plans to deflect or destroy an incoming asteroid are fraught with “high-level gaps.” NASA noted that space authorities have a “limited readiness to quickly implement needed space missions,” and are unprepared to efficiently inform the public about impending disasters.

Participants, including representatives from the State Department and the UN’s Office for Outer Space Affairs, responded to NASA’s findings with unease.

A worrying 33 percent believed humanity is not equipped to launch a space mission to prevent an asteroid impact. Additionally, 19 percent of participants indicated that reconnaissance missions were not yet ready.

“In the unlikely event we ever face a scenario like this, it won’t be the first time that anybody’s talked about how to treat this,” NASA’s acting planetary defense officer, Kelly Fast, tells USA Today,

NASA has already conducted real-world tests to counteract potential asteroid threats. In 2022, they successfully shortened the orbit of Dimorphos, a small moon orbiting the asteroid Didymos, by 32 minutes by crashing a spacecraft into it.

The test, conducted around 6.8 million miles from Earth, demonstrated NASA’s capability to influence the trajectory of space objects.

The New York Sun

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