Time to start stocking up on Ensure. NASA scientists warn that an asteroid could hit the Earth in 2128. The object, known as 1999 RQ36, is the asteroid which could hit Earth in 2128. That’s right, 2128! Actually, the odds are still one-in-one-thousand, but 1999 RQ36 is a Near Earth Object (NEO) whose orbital path intersects the Earth’s orbit periodically. A recent research paper indicates that 1999 RQ36 poses a “non-zero impact probabilities on numerous occasions during the years after 2165.”
There are thousands of NEO class asteroids. In fact, one just passed us by yesterday! 1999 JD6, also known as Object 85989, passed Earth yesterday a mere 12,889,800 miles, about 0.1386 AU (Astronomical Units). That asteroid was a fairly large one, about 2.4 kilometers long and 1.1 kilometers wide. The charts linked below provide details of many NEO asteroids which will make close approaches.
In 2004, NASA scientists caused a bit of a panic with another asteroid, 99942 Apophis. Initial study of it’s orbit showed a 1-in-233 chance of hitting the Earth in 2029. Apophis was given a Level 4 on the Torino scale, used to rate potential threats. But the 270 meter long asteroid has since been downgraded to Level Zero for 2026. In 2036, during it’s next fly-by, there is a 1-in-250,000 chance of striking and in 2068, only a 1-in-3,000,000 chance.
The most likely Earth strike is estimated to be 1950 DA, a.k.a 29075. That asteroid poses a “significant possibility of impact” on March 16, 2880. The odds of this NEO hitting the Earth are calculated to be 1-in-3! Originally discovered in 1950, astronomers only tracked it for 17 days until it faded from view. On December 31, 2000, the asteroid was reacquired. Observations from both the Goldstone and Arecibo radar antennas measured the NEO as 1.1 kilometers wide. The probability of it hitting the Earth fall inside the limit of prediction, 0.33%.
You don’t have to worry that an asteroid could hit Earth in 2128. You’ll be happy to know that your Congress is on the ball. H.R. 5587 was drafted last month and calls for a commission to investigate planetary defenses. Naturally, it includes “other purposes”, too. If an asteroid could hit Earth in 2128, our Congress will figure out a way to tax us thoroughly well before it happens.
Learn More About Near Earth Objects & Asteroids: