You may have seen reports that a massive asteroid the size of a football field is hurtling toward Earth.
Although the European Space Agency (ESA) has placed asteroid 2006QV89 on its Risk List, there’s no reason to sound the alarms just yet.
It’s not that big
First of all, it’s probably not as big as you think it is. The object is roughly 40 meters in diameter, according to the ESA. A football field is 48.5 meters wide and 109 meters long.
For comparison, some of the other asteroids on the Risk List measure 900 and 375 meters in diameter.
The Risk List is probably scarier than it sounds
The Risk List might sound scary, but that simply means that ESA calculated a non-zero impact probability.
ESA says this particular asteroid has a 1 in 7,299 chance of hitting us. You’re more likely to get killed by fireworks, which is a 1 in 340,733 chance.
The threshold for action is if an asteroid is determined to have a 1 in 100 chance of impact with the Earth.
In addition to 2006QV89, there are 869 other near-Earth asteroids on ESA’s Risk List. And if we were to freak out about every one of them, we’d never get any work done.
It’s still a ways away
2006QV89 is currently 4.2 million miles away from us. If the asteroid does hit Earth, it wouldn’t be until September 9, 2019, at 7:03 a.m., ESA says.
Space agencies have been prepping for the worst
NASA, FEMA and other international groups including ESA have been training for what to do if an asteroid ever does hit the planet we call home. They regularly hold near-Earth object impact exercises.
In December, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission finally made it to the asteroid Bennu. It will spend two years studying Bennu. By doing so, scientists are hoping to glimpse more information about asteroids that could impact Earth as well as how planets formed and life began.AlertMe