Asteroid could collide with Earth in 2032, say Ukrainian astronomers
Scientists say there is a chance an asteroid could hit our planet in 2032, creating an explosion 50 times greater than the most powerful nuclear bomb.
Astronomers say the 1,345-foot (410m) rock could pass by or hit the Earth on 26 August 2032.
The asteroid was discovered moving through the Camelopardalis – or Giraffe - constellation by scientists at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in southern Ukraine last week.
“I was watching the Giraffe constellation, monitoring it as part of our comet search programme,” astronomer Gennady Borisov said.
“The first observations show that it moves quickly and is relatively close.”
Astronomers in Italy, Spain, the UK and Russia have now confirmed the presence of the rock, and it has been added to the Minor Planet Center’s list of potentially hazardous asteroids.
If it hit the Earth, the asteroid would create an explosion equivalent to 2,500 megatons of TNT, or 50 times greater than the most powerful nuclear bomb ever used.
However, in reality the threat is minor, with astronomers putting the chance of direct impact at one in 63,000 - the likelihood being that its orbit will miss our planet by some 1.7 million kilometres.
But this did not stop Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announcing that the asteroid would pose a “great challenge for our national space industry” on Twitter.
Mr Rogozin has previously pushed for the development of anti-asteroid defence systems, like former MP Lembit Opik in the UK.
Nasa played down the possibility of impact, with Don Yeoman, manager of the administration’s Near-Earth Object Profram Office, saying: "The current probability of no impact in 2032 [is] about 99.998 per cent.
"This is a relatively new discovery. With more observations, I fully expect we will be able to significantly reduce, or rule out entirely, any impact probability for the foreseeable future."