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6 Feb, 2019 18:21

Risk of asteroid smashing into Earth ratcheted up by space agency

Risk of asteroid smashing into Earth ratcheted up by space agency

One of the World’s foremost watchdogs for monitoring the threat giant space rocks pose to our planet has upped the risk level for a recently discovered asteroid.

It’s the plot of numerous sci-fi novels and more than a few Hollywood blockbusters. Humans seemingly have a deeply ingrained fear of a big rock from space crashing into Earth and wiping out civilization, so much so that we continuously monitor thousands of objects that float around the solar system.

In its latest update the European Space Agency’s Near Earth Object Coordination Centre moved the asteroid 2018XB4, which was only discovered last year, into its top 10 potentially dangerous Near Earth Objects (NEOs).

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According to the agency, recent observations of the asteroid have prompted a recalculation of its likelihood of impacting the planet and it is now considered the fifth most dangerous Near Earth Object in the sky.

However don’t panic just yet. While the asteroid’s chances of sending humans the way of the dinosaurs has undoubtedly increased it still isn’t something you need to worry about for a while.

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2018XB4, which is 70 meters in diameter, is now estimated to have “a probability of about 1 in 7000 to collide with Earth in year 2092”, the ESA reports.

NEOs frequently fly past the Earth on their journey around the Sun but rarely do they strike our planet. In fact of the 19,563 asteroids and 107 comets that have been discovered only 817 are on the Near Earth Object Coordination Centre’s ‘Risk List’.

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