Earth Avoids Disaster from Undetected Asteroid

A ten-story asteroid, designated 2017 AG13, was spotted last Sunday by the Catalina Sky Survey.  The asteroid was clocked going 16 kilometers a second as it passed our planet at a distance of 126,451 miles--that's roughly half the distance of the Earth from the Moon.

"This is moving very quickly, very nearby to us," said Eric Feldman, an expert with astronomy website Slooh.

The asteroid, which was roughly the same size as the one that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013, was still only half the size of those designed to be detected by NEOCam, an infra-red telescope surveying the sky for potentially dangerous asteroids.  Had 2017 AG13 impacted with the Earth, it likely would have exploded high in the atmosphere with the force of 700 kilotons.  That's 35 times more powerful than the bombs used on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. 

A recently released White House document admits that early warning of asteroids remains an issue, but the chances of a “potentially hazardous” asteroid impact on Earth in the next 100 years is just 0.01 per cent.


Tobias Wayland