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A "Global-Extinction-sized" asteroid to sail past Earth next week - "Comets much more dangerous"

Sat, 25 May 2013 15:17 CDT
Near-Earth Objects (NEO) have long been a dilemma for scientists, especially since the discovery of 99942 Apophis in 2004. Apophis was first believed to be heading directly towards earth, and created a bit of a stir when people realized that it could hit earth in 2029. However, since then, due to several recalculations and lucky happenstances, the asteroid has only a 1 in 45,000 chance of hitting earth.

Astrophycisist, Sir Martin Rees pf Cambridge University, has famously speculated that the asteroid risk is just one of many reasons why humankind has only a 50/50 chance of making it into the next century. Even so, he says comets are more frightening of a doomsday prospect.

Pound for pound, comets are much more dangerous than asteroids, which have nonetheless gotten more media attention. Comets travel a lot faster through space than Asteroids, which travel at about 25-30 km per second. The speed of a comet approaches a much faster 70 km per second. A relatively small object of just one and a half km in diameter hitting the Earth would release more energy than all the atomic bombs ever detonated and then some. An object of 20 km or more would likely cause mass extinction.

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