Conspiracy theorists are abuzz about a potential asteroid striking Earth in the coming weeks. It is quite possible the Earth will come into close contact with asteroids buzzing by our “pale blue dot” as Carl Sagan once described our planetary habitat. Therefore, it is sensible to question whether there is a reasonable chance of a collision with an asteroid, comet or other meaningful material floating through the vastness of space. Let’s take a quick look at the likelihood of such a monumental event.
Do not Start Your Doomsday Countdown
Take a look at this article from Space.com published last fall about the potential for Earth to be hit by asteroid 2006 QV89 and you will learn the odds of a such a strike were 7,000 to 1. The space rock missed our planet later that fall. This expected outcome will likely prove true of subsequent comets that pass through our neck of the intergalactic neighborhood in years to come. In other words, our top scientists and space aficionados agree we are unlikely to see a sizable asteroid strike in our lifetime. The 6-mile-long asteroid that led to the death of our planet’s dinosaurs 66 million years ago was an incredible aberration, one that might not ever occur again.
Asteroid 2006 QV89 zoomed on by Earth, missing us by a whopping 4.2 million miles. In order to understand just how far away this asteroid was from our planet, it is important to provide some context. Our moon is nearly 240,000 miles away from Earth. This is precisely why the science community was confident stating there was a 1 in 7,000 chance the asteroid would hit our planet.
What About Other Asteroids?
Doomsdayers are quick to point out the fact that 2006 QV89 is not the sole asteroid in existence. Though there are seemingly countless asteroids in outer space, the odds of an impact large enough to cause considerable damage on planet Earth are quite low. According to the science geeks at NASA, the chances of such an interplanetary rock causing enough damage to level a city on Earth is a mere 0.1% in any year.
So don’t quit your job, sell your home and skip your credit card payments assuming we will all be obliterated by a massive asteroid strike. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning several times than being killed by an asteroid.
What if an Asteroid Really Does hit Earth?
If the planet is struck by an asteroid, most of us would survive the blow simply because our beautiful planet is primarily comprised of water. According to NASA scientists, such an asteroid strike is 70% more likely to strike water as opposed to land. Even if an asteroid hit one of Earth’s land masses, it might not land in a heavily populated area. Keep in mind, our planet has vast swaths of unpopulated land with minimal, if any, development. NASA representatives insist even if an asteroid were to strike land, there is a one-in-five chance it would hit land that is unpopulated.
Survival After an Asteroid Strike
Let’s pretend for a moment that an asteroid strikes a heavily populated area. In fact, we can even up the ante by pretending a gigantic asteroid or even several large asteroids could strike all of our heavily populated city centers in a doomsday scenario. Even if such an unlikely event were to occur, there is evidence suggesting human life would go on.
Academicians at the University of Berkley, California insist evidence exists showing non-avian dinosaurs lived 30,000 years beyond the asteroid impact that supposedly killed all dinosaurs on planet Earth. The little-known truth is some dinosaurs survived the asteroid only to go extinct across the ensuing 100,000 years due to extensive climate alterations resulting from the impact.