In case you were wondering if Hollywood scenarios like the Armageddon could ever come to pass, NASA has just found an answer for you. In a recently unveiled map of potentially hazardous asteroids, the US Space Agency suggests those dangerous asteroids that are close to Earth’s orbit are several thousands.
The disconcerting map of the inner Solar System points to the orbits of 1,400 PHAs that are currently close to our planet. This is part of NASA’s Near Earth Objects program and it only includes asteroid bodies that are considered dangerous.
Why are these considered dangerous asteroids, you may ask? For one thing, there is the size issue as these bodies are all over 140 meters in diameter. Included in this category are also asteroids that currently pass close to the Earth’s orbit, which is within 7.5 million kilometers from our planet.
The PHA map displays a rather dizzying swarm of orbits surrounding the sun. Most of the orbits are concentrated around the orbit of Jupiter.
If the thought of so many large asteroids hovering over the Earth is scary, try not to panic. According to NASA experts, these are only classified as potentially hazardous, and not an imminent threat to our life on Earth.
This does not mean that any of these PHAs will impact the planet over the coming 100 years. However, constant observation is necessary to map out their trajectory and to observe potential threats in the decades to come.
This NASA map shows the orbits of thousands of potentially hazardous asteroids.
In fact, NASA researchers and astronomers are on a constant lookout for asteroid bodies that may pose a threat to the Earth. According to a NASA spokesperson, almost 90% of the largest asteroids that have been identified as potential threats so far, were unveiled by such surveys and mapping systems.
NASA’s Near Earth Objects (NEO) Program is focused on mapping all comet and asteroid activity that occurs near our planet’s orbit, in an attempt to have a clear decade long warning in place, in case a large object like a PHA approaches the Earth.[source : techbeat]