So this incoming asteroid is huge

It's not going to hit Earth, but just if you were curious, this Asteroid that is passing by Earth Friday night would do some serious damage

Posted on 2/15/2013

This awesome infographic from the Telegraph points out the meteor shower today in Russia and the incoming asteroid are coming from completely different directions and aren't related, and also highlights the size difference between the two objects:




So as an important point of reference, here's what that little 2 meter Russian Meteor did:



That was a 2 meter wide piece of space rock! What happens if an asteroid twice the size of a space shuttle were to hit Earth!? From Gizmodo:

Ebel says that Marcus et al calculated the kinetic energy of a 50-meter-wide asteroid with a density of 2.6 grams per cubic centimeter and a speed of 12.7 kilometers per second hitting Earth at a 45 degree angle. This would be a similar scenario to 2012 DA14, which is only five meters smaller and, in the opinion of Ebel, "could have a density of about 2.6 grams per cubic centimeter" since it is a stony asteroid too.

Marcus, Melosh and Collins' calculations resulted in 3.3 Megatons of kinetic energy at entry, with an airburst energy of 2.9 Megatons at about 8.5 kilometers from the surface, "about the cruise altitude of passenger jets."

This means that an asteroid like this would likely explode in the air, releasing the energy equivalent of about 138 atomic bombs like the one that the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay dropped over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Or, if you would like a more modern equivalent, 2012 DA14 could have exploded with the energy of nine W87 nuclear warheads like the ones carried by the American Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.


So generally speaking, bad things. The good news though...scientists say an asteroid this large is only predicted to pass this close to Earth every 40 years, and only enter our atmosphere once every 1200 years. So you're safe. Probably. But if you want to read more about what horrible things happen when giant space rocks do hit the Earth's surface go check out the cosmic blog at NBC News.


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