New video: Asteroid impacts more frequent than thought
Saturday, April 26, 2014, 1:51 PM -
Remember the meteor that exploded over Russia last year? It turns out those are much more common than people realize.
And rather than saying that as a blanket statement, the B612 Foundation has the numbers to prove it.
The astronaut-backed organization, which advocates for detection and prevention of asteroid strikes on our planet, says between 2000 and 2013, 26 explosions of 1-600 kilotons of TNT were detected in Earth's atmosphere.
The blasts were recorded by a global sensor network designed to detect nuclear explosions, but those 26 findings were all from asteroids blowing up in the skies above us.
"Because we don't know where or when the next major impact will occur, the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a 'city killer' sized astronaut has been blind luck," Dr. Ed Lu, a former astronaut and co-founder of the B612 Foundation, said.
The findings were released on Tuesday, Earth Day, at the Seattle Museum of Flight.
Asteroid impacts have been on the public mind since the 2013 explosion of an undetected space rock above the Siberian city of Chelyabinsk.
No one was killed, but the the explosion sent almost a thousand people to hospital with minor injuries, most related to shattering glass.
B612 says that was the most powerful of the blasts detected over the 13-year period, rated at around 600 kilotons, far outstripping the 15-kiloton yield of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Most of the others exploded too high in the atmosphere to do any damage, but none of them were tracked in advance, and the foundation says the Earth orbits the sun along with millions of asteroids, thousands of which could potentially impact Earth to some degree.
The group's aim is to build a space telescope specifically designed to track asteroids years before they might become a threat to Earth.