Scientists observing the sky for asteroids that could threaten Earth have reached a new milestone, discovering the 10,000th largest space rock surrounding the sun near Earth’s orbit.
The discovery is part of NASA’s ongoing planetary protection work, which aims to detect and monitor space rocks in the inner solar system to ensure that there are no small planet to influence the Earth, of course. (To date, scientists are not aware of any space rocks that pose a serious threat to Earth in the near future.)
Although planetary defense experts identify every asteroid they can, they are particularly concerned about asteroids at least 460 feet (140 meters) wide, which could cause severe damage to the area in an impact scenario. And as of February 6, NASA’s near-Earth asteroid database has recorded the discovery of 10,004 such rocks.
For context, Meteor explodes over ChelyabinskRussia, as of 2013, was about 56 feet (17 meters) wide.
Asteroids more than 460 feet across make up about a third of the near-Earth asteroids scientists have discovered to date; All told, scientists have detected 28,266 near-Earth asteroids as of Monday (February 14), according to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Many of these rocks are so small that if they collided with the Earth, they would burn up in Earth’s atmosphere harmlessly.
Scientists are actually most worried about the threat of asteroids that are between 460 feet and 3,300 feet (1,000 m) across. Although larger space rocks can cause catastrophic damage, planetary protection experts are confident they have identified nearly every such asteroid that enters Earth’s vicinity. , which NASA determines is approaching within 120 million miles (195 million km) of the sun.
That is in stark contrast to medium sized rocks. To date, scientists believe they have discovered about 40% of near-Earth asteroids larger than 460 feet but smaller than 3,300 feet. Congress has asked NASA to work on detecting 90% of these space rocks.
Two key projects will help the agency achieve that goal. One is Vera C. Rubin . Observatory in Chile, which is scheduled to begin observations in the summer of 2023. The other telescope is a NASA space telescope known as Near-Earth Object Surveyor, which will detect asteroids in infrared light to help scientists spot darker rocks. NASA hopes to launch this mission in 2026.
https://www.space.com/planetary-defense-10000th-medium-near-earth-asteroid Scientists spot 10,000th average near-Earth asteroid in planetary protection milestone