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Asteroid could hit Earth in ’82
London, Jul 29 (IANS):
Published on 30 Jul. 2010 12:16 AM IST
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A massive asteroid might crash into Earth in 2182, scientists have warned. The asteroid, called 1999 RQ36, has a one-in-thousand chance of actually hitting the Earth at some point before the year 2200, but is most likely to hit on Sep 24, 2182.
The asteroid was first discovered in the year 1999 and is more than 1,800 feet across. If an asteroid of this size hits the Earth it would cause widespread devastation and possible mass extinction, reports the Daily Mail.
Scientists say that any attempt to try and divert the asteroid will have to take place at least 100 years before it is due to hit to have any chance of success.
If the asteroid had not been spotted until after 2080 it would have been impossible to divert it from its target, the scientists warned in a new research paper.
While the odds may seem long, they are far shorter than that of the asteroid Apophis, which currently has a one in 250,000 chance of striking the Earth in 2036.
Maria Eugenia Sansaturio and scientists from the Universidad de Valladolid in Spain have used mathematical models to calculate the risk of the asteroid hitting the Earth anytime between now and the year 2200.
Scientists around the world have long been discussing ways of deflecting potentially hazardous asteroids to prevent them from hitting the Earth.
Last month, physicist David Dearborn of the Lawrence Livermore National Lab in the US argued that nuclear weapons could be the best strategy for avoiding an asteroid impact - especially for large asteroids and with little warning time.
Factfile on deflecting asteroids
Three ways of deflecting an asteroid:
* Nuclear blast: A large nuclear explosion on an asteroid might be enough to deflect an asteroid but has significant political and ethical problems. And what if we just blew it into smaller pieces?
* Using mirrors: A fleet of spacecraft carrying light-reflecting mirrors might be able to vapourise the asteroid’s surface using the Sun’s rays. The gases from its surface would create a tiny amount of thrust - enough to divert it
* Gravity tractor: Crashing a spacecraft into the asteroid’s surface would certainly be the cheapest option. The ship’s own tiny gravity would then help move the asteroid’s path. But this option would take a long time to make a difference.

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