Moscow University’s robotic telescope has discovered a massive asteroid that could potentially hit Earth in the future. If such a collision happens, the explosion would be 1,000 more powerful the Chelyabinsk meteorite explosion in 2013.
An automatic telescope installed in Russia’s Caucasus Mountains, near the city of Kislovodsk, first spotted the newly discovered space rock, dubbed 2014 UR116. The asteroid is estimated to be 370 meters in diameter, which is bigger than the size of the notorious Apophis asteroid.
Once Russian astronomers saw the new space object, they passed the data to colleagues at the Minor Planet Center of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. That means many observatories around the world closely scrutinized 2014 UR116, which helped to calculate the object’s preliminary orbit.
2014 UR116’s orbit is fluctuating because it also passes close to Venus and Mars, and the gravitational pull of these planets can also influence the asteroid’s trajectory.
When a meteorite exploded in the skies above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013, the energy of the explosion was estimated to be equivalent to 300-500 kilotons of TNT. But the Chelyabinsk meteorite was relatively small, about 17 meters in diameter and it disintegrated with a blast at an altitude of over 20 kilometers.
The newly discovered 2014 UR116 is much bigger and its collision with our planet would be catastrophic, as its impact power would be 1,000 times stronger than of the Chelyabinsk meteorite, Scientific Russia journal pointed out.
But the good news is that the asteroid poses no threat to Earth for at least the next six years, Victor Shor, research associate at the Institute of Applied Astronomy told the Interfax news agency.
At the moment the closest part of 2014 UR116’s orbit is 4.5 million kilometers from Earth. But this will change, so scientists are going to have to keep an eye on 2014 UR116 for years to come.
The robotic telescope network that discovered 2014 UR116 is called MASTER. It belongs to Moscow State University and was created in close cooperation with Russian universities in Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Blagoveschensk, the Kislovodsk station of Pulkovo Observatory and help from the National University of San Juan, Argentina.
MASTER has already snagged two other potentially dangerous asteroids: 2013 SW24 and 2013 UG1, but they were smaller than 2014 UR116, ‘only’ 250 and 125 meters respectively.
The video showing the movement of 2014 UR116 is made up of a number of photos taken by the MASTER robotic telescope, with several minutes interval between each one.
A New Pandemic Could Kill 80 Million People, Experts Warn
Are we ready for the next global pandemic? Maybe not.
Let’s back up, though. In 2018, the World Health Organization and the World Bank co-convened the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), an independent group of experts focused on global health emergencies.
After taking into account everything from emerging political trends to climate change, the team concluded that “there is a very real threat of a rapidly moving, highly lethal pandemic of a respiratory pathogen killing 50 to 80 million people and wiping out nearly 5 percent of the world’s economy.”
“A global pandemic on that scale would be catastrophic, creating widespread havoc, instability and insecurity,” the authors continued. “The world is not prepared.”
The world might not be prepared for such a crisis right now, but the GPMB experts think it still has time to get on the right track.
They even outlined seven specific actions world leaders could take to increase our preparedness, including the full implementation of International Health Regulations, increased investment in vaccine research and development, and the establishment of strong national preparedness systems.
“For too long, we have allowed a cycle of panic and neglect when it comes to pandemics: we ramp up efforts when there is a serious threat, then quickly forget about them when the threat subsides,” the report’s authors wrote. “It is well past time to act.”
US Analysts Paints Grim Prospects of US-Russia Nuclear War, 18M Casualties Per Hour
Moscow has repeatedly cautioned the US against deploying short and medium-range missiles near Russia’s borders in the wake of Washington’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
American researchers at Princeton University have presented the results of their modelling of the most drastic scenario of a conflict between NATO forces and Russia with the use of nuclear weapons. In a video accompanying the research, called Plan A, the analysts show step by step how the two sides would arrive at almost complete mutual annihilation.
In the opinion of the Princeton researchers, a conventional war would turn nuclear after the sides use tactical nuclear strikes in order to halt the advance of conventional forces. The next step would be a massive nuclear exchange, with Russian aviation practically annihilating Europe and nearby NATO bases, which in turn would fire retaliatory strikes against Russian launch sites.
After this, according to the analysts, Russia and the US would likely use most of the remaining arsenals to destroy each other’s key military objects and would use the remaining nukes to target the most populated cities and economic centres to prevent a rapid recovery. The modelled nuclear war is expected to leave all parties involved devastated.
According to the researchers’ estimations, an overall exchange would take less than five hours in total and leave 34 million dead and 57.4 million injured immediately. This, in turn, means that the projected conflict could result in around 18 million casualties each hour. The analysts added that the numbers would rise after the last strikes due to nuclear fallout and “other long-term effects”.
The scientists indicated that the simulated stand-off was based on the real nuclear force postures of the countries involved and was made to “highlight the potentially catastrophic consequences of current US and Russian nuclear war plans”.
Asteroid Almost Twice as Big as London’s Shard Tower Heading Toward Earth
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has previously claimed that the Earth has no defense against giant asteroids approaching the planet, with NASA and SpaceX currently developing systems that would help to redirect space rocks from bumping into the Earth.
A monster asteroid larger than the world’s largest buildings, including London’s the Shard, will be passing near the Earth at a speed of 23,112 km per hour on 14 September, Live Science reported, citing the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).
The huge space rock called 2000 QW7 is approximately measured to be between 290 and 650 meters in diameter, which in comparison to 311-metre the Shard and 828-metre Burj Khalifa seems quite immense.
Nevertheless, it is quite unlikely that the giant will hit the Earth, according to CNEOS, as 2000 QW7 will pass within 0.03564 astronomical units from our planet, which is around 5.3 million km.
As the asteroid, just like our planet, orbits the Sun, the last time it approached the Earth was around 18 years ago, on 1 September 2000, and it is expected to come close again in 2038 (if we survive this time).
Previously Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had sparked fears about Earth not being able to defend itself against giant asteroids, such as the 99942 asteroid Apophis known as “God of Chaos”, that are considered potentially dangerous if they come within 7.4 million km from Earth, according to space organizations.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX and NASA are reportedly working together now on an asteroid redirect mission impeding the arrival of Apophis in April 2029, which will test Earth’s ability to defend itself against giant asteroids.
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