A vast asteroid thrusting through space at 33 kilometers per second is set to rush past Earth April 20 – while it will miss the planet by almost two million kilometers, the impending blast-by is perhaps a reminder that mankind must be vigilant, and prepare appropriately for the day Earth ends up in a giant asteroid’s crosshairs for real.
Space may seem deathly still from Earth’s surface, but the cosmos is anything but static — on top of space junk left by human exploration, which could well multiply exponentially in years to come, asteroids pulverize their rocky way through the heavens with much frequency, often perilously close to the Earth.
April 20’s asteroid, 2014-JO25, is a leviathan measuring a kilometer across, and set to race past the planet closer than any asteroid of its size has in 13 years — although it will be at a relatively safe lunar distance of 4.6, or 1.8 million kilometers, away. The robotic telescope service Slooh will screen a live fly-by.
Still, if an asteroid that size did hit Earth, it would be catastrophic. If it crashed into the sea, it would produce tsunamis capable of wiping out coastal cities. If it hit land, the results would be comparable to 10,000 megatons of TNT striking the Earth.