Asteroids: Single Greatest Natural Threat to Humanity

June 27, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Scientists from the University of Southampton’s School of Engineering Sciences, have been busy calculating the damage small asteroids could cause if the bits of space junk decide to come crashing down to earth on land or in the oceans. The researchers found that even an asteroid about 50 meters in diameter, could cause devastating property damage and loss of life.

Most asteroids orbit harmlessly in the so-called asteroid belt of the solar system. Made up of space junk and too small to be considered planets, they sometimes do crash towards earth.

The last known asteroid carsh, happened one hundred years ago in an uninhabited forested area of the Tunguska River. The asteroid was about 50 meters and destroyed the forest below it, as it exploded before making landfall.

Head Researcher Nick Bailey believes nations need to prepare contingency plans to deal with a natural disaster of the magnitude that even relatively small asteroids could cause.

Using sophisticated software from NASA, called NEOimpactor, Bailey and his team were able to calculate the damage from an impact of an asteroid under one kilometer in diameter.

The researchers found that the countries of China, Indonesia, India, Japan and the United States would suffer severe loss of population if hit with an asteroid. The countries of United States, China, Sweden, Canada and Japan were found to be most at risk for devastating economic loss and destruction of valuable infrastructure.

Bailey warned of the catastrophic damage that an asteroid the size of 200 meters, could wreak on counties if it crashed in an ocean. He believes global scale tsunamis would result, the likes the world has never seen.

Countries facing the greatest risk of suffering from an asteroid impact, should take steps to develop a natural disaster plan to mitigate loss of life.

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