Science Daily reports today that an asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier is going to pass within a couple hundred thousand mile of earth next Monday.
“What is unique about this asteroid flyby is that we were aware of it well in advance,” Jay Melosh, a Purdue expert in impact cratering, said. “Before about 1980 we wouldn’t know about an asteroid of this size until it was already making a close pass, but now it is unlikely that such an asteroid will approach the Earth without our knowledge.”
The following question is the type that could easily come from the mind of Mary Lucia: Is this knowledge a good thing or a bad thing?
If an asteroid were on its way to hit the earth, would you want to know about it? If it were to hit, what would you be doing today?
Melosh says this particular rock would create a blast equal to 4,000 megatons and if it were to strike the ocean, it would create 70-foot-high tsunami waves 60 miles from the splashdown site.
If it struck, say, Menominee, heat from the fireball would cause extensive first-degree skin burns to everyone in the Twin Cities.
While you’re thinking about whether you’d want to know the earth was doomed in such a situation, you’ll want to be playing with this neat asteroid impact calculator.