Is it true that a city-destroying asteroid could hit us without being detected beforehand, as Neil deGrasse Tyson just said? originally appeared on Quora, the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.
Is it true that a city-destroying asteroid could hit us without being detected beforehand, as Neil deGrasse Tyson just said? Oh yes, it is very true.
In fact, it almost happened five years ago, in February 2013, when a meteor weighing over 10,000 metric tons entered the atmosphere. Thankfully, it had a relatively shallow trajectory, so when it exploded (with the power of about 30 Hiroshima bombs) above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, it was still approx. 30 km above ground level. Nonetheless, the resulting shock wave injured over a thousand people and caused substantial property damage.
Had its trajectory been slightly steeper, had it exploded closer to the ground, the damage would have been far more substantial, likely resulting in many deaths and widespread devastation.
And it was completely undetected beforehand. One reason was that it was coming from a direction near the Sun, making detection difficult.
I find it especially ironic that Chelyabinsk was one of the Soviet Union’s “closed cities”, a nuclear research center. I can only imagine the possible response to an impact event like this back during the paranoid Cold War days.
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