The chance of a city-killing asteroid striking Earth is higher than scientists previously believed, a non-profit group building an asteroid-hunting telescope said on Tuesday.
A global network that listens for nuclear weapons detonations detected 26 asteroids that exploded in Earth’s atmosphere from 2000 to 2013, data collected by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization shows. The explosions include the Feb. 15, 2013, impact over Chelyabinsk, Russia, which left more than 1,000 people injured by flying glass and debris.
‘There is a popular misconception that asteroid impacts are extraordinarily rare that’s incorrect,’ said former astronaut Ed Lu, who now heads the California-based B612 Foundation. The foundation on Tuesday released a video visualization of the asteroid strikes in an attempt to raise public awareness of the threat.
Asteroids as small as about 131 feet (40 meters) – less than half the size of an American football field – have the potential to level a city, Lu told reporters on a conference call. ‘Picture a large apartment building – moving at Mach 50,’ Lu said. Mach 50 is 50 times the speed of sound, or roughly 38,000 mph (61,250 kph).
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