Measuring the risk of A-Bomb equivalent asteroids


The California-based B612 Foundation has released a video displaying the distribution of 26 multi-kiloton asteroid impacts known to have struck the Earth since the year 2000. Many of the impacts – detected by a network of satellites operated by the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization – exploded with a force greater than that of the city-leveling bomb dropped on Hiroshima, which had an explosive yield of 15 kilotons.

Our planet orbits the Sun alongside a swarm of asteroids. Most of these celestial wanderers pose no threat to Earth, however one need only observe the cratered face of the Moon to understand that, not only do asteroid impacts take place, but they do so with surprising regularity. In 2013 alone, one asteroid was caught on video striking the surface of the Moon, with another exploding in the sky over Chelyabinsk, Russia. The impact caused only superficial damage, but raised alarming questions as to what precautions we have in place to counter a potential asteroid strike…

The B612 Foundation, in conjunction with Ball Aerospace, intends to implement an infrared survey mission, which will catalog 90 percent of all asteroids larger than 140 meters within the area of our solar system that may pose a realistic threat to our planet. The mission will run for six and a half years and will involve the commissioning and successful deployment of a Sentinel satellite, which will maintain a Venus-like orbit around the Sun, searching out and following up on asteroids with the potential to strike Earth…

Once the project is complete, it is hoped that the Sentinel catalog will provide decades worth of early warning for potentially hazardous asteroids, allowing organizations such as NASA to develop and execute missions to avert a potentially devastating impact.

If this project gets sufficient publicity I can sense a growing profit to be made in asteroid shelters. Poisonally, I think the stats on living or dying by asteroid aren’t even close to all the truly stupid things a small number of human beings – in uniform or holding elected office – do to the rest of us.

Thanks, Mike

17 thoughts on “Measuring the risk of A-Bomb equivalent asteroids

  1. Duck says:

    “Bus-Size Asteroid Buzzes Earth, Comes Closer Than the Moon” (5/3/14) “An asteroid of that size would cause significant damage if it impacted a major city, potentially hitting with the impact of a nuclear bomb roughly half the size of the one that hit Hiroshima in 1945.” (13~18 kilotons of TNT

    • Déjà vu says:

      Anyone with a strong Internet connection can watch a bus-sized asteroid make a safe flyby of Earth today (April 26). (see links)
      Weather permitting, the Virtual Telescope Project plans to livestream live telescopic views of the recently found asteroid 2022 HB1. The asteroid will pass within about 52% of the moon’s orbit. The broadcast starts at 2:30 p.m. EDT (1830 GMT) and you can watch it in the video feed above or directly from The Virtual Telescope Project.
      The asteroid is roughly 39 feet wide (12 meters), making it roughly the size of a bus, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The little world will pass within 125,000 miles (201,000 km) of our planet.

  2. Tunguska says:

    (11/21/14) “Asteroid Early-Warning Strategies Report Released” “The danger of an asteroid smacking into Earth is a clear and present hazard, underscored by the huge fireball and shattering explosion that occurred over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013. That event served as a global wake-up call — for both politicians and the public — that Earth is not impervious to “out of the blue” asteroid strikes.”
    A workshop hosted by the Secure World Foundation in September brought a diverse group of experts together from the near-Earth asteroid science, risk communication, policy and emergency management communities to discuss the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN), which operates independently of the United Nations.
    Following lengthy deliberations among workshop participants, the group made recommendations to sharpen the utility of IAWN and their efforts have just been released as a public document. The results of the workshop, however, have not yet been reviewed by the IAWN Steering Committee, nor endorsed or adopted for implementation.
    Re: IAWN see
    See also NASA Sentry Risk Table @ (re: JPL Sentry collision monitoring system see ), which includes Palermo Technical Impact Hazard and Torino Impact Hazard threat assessments, as well as links to other near Earth object (NEO) and near-Earth asteroid (NEA) information.
    See also history of Spaceguard and the links @

  3. YIKES says:

    A massive football field-sized asteroid made a close pass by Earth Sunday, a phenomenon that went unnoticed until the last minute.
    With an estimated diameter of up to 361 feet, asteroid 2018 GE3 came within 119,500 miles of Earth, which is half the distance from our planet and the moon, reports [link]
    Researchers were unable to detect the massive rock until just a few hours before it flew past, LiveScience reports [link]. While most asteroids stay within the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, others pass by the Earth but aren’t detected because they are typically small and dark. Asteroid 2018 GE3 is even larger than the space rock that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013. The meteor was roughly 56 feet in diameter and weighed roughly 11,000 tons. It caused nearly 1,200 injuries after a shock wave from the explosion shattered acres of windows in the city. See “The bulk of the object’s energy was absorbed by the atmosphere, with a total kinetic energy before atmospheric impact estimated from infrasound and seismic measurements to be equivalent to the blast yield of a nuclear weapon in the 400–500 kiloton (about 1.4–1.8 PJ) range – 26 to 33 times as much energy as that released from the atomic bomb detonated at Hiroshima.”

  4. Tunguska says:

    “Small Asteroid Strikes Africa Just Hours After It Was Spotted” (includes video)
    “Chelyabinsk: Portrait of an asteroid airburst” (Physics Today 2014) “Video and audio from hundreds of smartphones and dashboard cameras combined with seismic, acoustic, and satellite measurements provide the first precise documentation of a 10 000-ton asteroid explosion.”

  5. Space Ace says:

    “After a two-year chase, a Nasa probe has reached the ancient asteroid Bennu. The robotic explorer Osiris-Rex pulled within 12 miles (19km) of the diamond-shaped object on Monday and will go into orbit around it on 31 December. No spacecraft has ever orbited such a small body.
    Bennu is considered a potentially hazardous asteroid – it is due to make a close pass of Earth about 150 years. If it collided with Earth, Bennu would probably cause a crater.”

  6. Whizz-BANG says:

    “NASA, FEMA, and other national and international agencies are once again gearing up for a hypothetical asteroid impact preparedness scenario. They hope to learn the best strategies for responding to a potential strike, starting from the moment a threatening asteroid is first detected by astronomers.
    Next week marks the start of the International Academy of Astronautics Planetary Defense Conference. As part of this conference, NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office will team up with other partners to perform a “tabletop exercise” on how they’d handle the news of a (fictional) asteroid on a collision course with Earth.”
    “Scientists live-tweet chilling faux asteroid impact scare : Will NASA and ESA be able to save Earth? Stay tuned to find out.”
    “Visualization and Analysis of Threats from Asteroid Ocean Impacts” Los Alamos National Laboratory (April 2017) two and three-dimensional simulations of asteroid ocean impacts. See also

  7. Space case says:

    An asteroid nearly a mile wide orbited by a smaller moon and traveling 48,000 mph is set to pass by Earth this weekend. Even though Asteroid (66391) 1999 KW4 has been classified as a “potentially hazardous” by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Minor Planet Center, scientists say we have nothing to fear – it will only come within 3.2 million miles of Earth, which equals about 13 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.

  8. Knock, knock... says:

    “City killer” asteroid just missed Earth – scientists say they had no idea it was coming. (CBS News)
    Asteroid 2019 OK came hurtling toward Earth at a speed of nearly 15 miles a second, before flying past. According to NASA, it was about 45,000 miles from Earth on Thursday.
    “It would have hit with over 30 times the energy of the atomic blast at Hiroshima,” astronomer professor Alan Duffy told the Sydney Morning Herald. Duffy called the zooming space rock a “city killer”.
    See also NASA;old=0;orb=1;cov=0;log=0;cad=0#orb

  9. Tom Corbett says:

    “How NASA Failed To Protect Earth From Getting Hit By An Asteroid” (09/06/19)
    “NASA admitted that it was already too late when the agency detected an asteroid that was on a collision course with Earth. As a result, the asteroid breached Earth’s atmosphere and exploded somewhere over the Caribbean.
    The asteroid that recently hit Earth was identified as 2019 MO, which had an estimated diameter of only 16 feet. It entered Earth’s atmosphere on June 29. Before colliding with Earth, NASA reported that it first spotted the asteroid more than 300,000 miles from the planet. According to the agency, the size of the asteroid made it almost impossible to detect.”
    Also according to NASA, “The body had been spotted only four times in just under half an hour, which was not enough information to determine where the object came from or exactly where it was headed.”
    Just last month, the European Space Agency (ESA) said it too missed an NEO recently, calling for better asteroid watch. On July 25, a huge asteroid which was roughly the size of a football pitch, skimmed Earth, and scientists were unaware it was coming.

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