October 25, 2006

Russian Scientists Warn Of Asteroid Impact Hazard In 2035

St. Petersburg, Russia (RIA) Oct 20, 2006,
Astronomers at Russia's largest observatory said Friday an asteroid now orbiting the sun may strike the Earth in 2035, but that the odds of a catastrophic collision can be estimated only 22 years from now.

"We cannot rule out the possibility of an asteroid, currently orbiting the sun, striking the Earth in 2035," said Sergei Smirnov, spokesman for St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Observatory. "But how much of a threat [this asteroid actually presents] will be impossible to assess until 2028, when it approaches our planet."

Flying in close proximity to the Earth will alter the asteroid's orbit, and scientists believe the extent of that shift will give them a clue as to the likelihood of future impacts, fraught with disastrous consequences for terrestrial life.

"[Celestial] bodies measuring 100 meters across or more are deemed dangerous," Smirnov said. "Such bodies, comparable in size to the Tunguska meteorite [that impacted Siberia in 1908], could cause a disaster on a regional scale in the event of an impact."

But the space rock expected to near the Earth in 2028 is about a kilometer in diameter, so if it does strike, our planet will face a continental disaster and major climate change.

"And if the asteroid falls into an ocean, the disaster could assume global proportions," warned Smirnov. [link]

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