Is Earth really safe from killer asteroids?

Scientists say there’s a one in 100 chance of a 140m asteroid hitting Earth every century, but don’t worry, Nasa’s on it

14 November 2021 - 17:54 By Adam Minter

In April, scientists discovered an asteroid that had a roughly one in 2,500 chance of colliding with Earth in six months. As the weeks passed and observations improved, they determined the space rock — perhaps 670m across — was on target for central Europe, potentially putting a million people in harm’s way. Scientists, space agencies and civil-defence organisations scrambled to find a life-saving solution, but soon determined it was too late.

“The exercise played out that we basically had to take the hit,” said Lindley Johnson, Nasa’s planetary-defence officer. Fortunately, that’s all it was: an exercise. But next time might not be. Scientists estimate there’s roughly a one in 100 chance of an asteroid larger than 140m across hitting the Earth every century. Depending on where such a rock landed, it could cause casualties exceeding any known natural disaster...

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