IT’S only a matter of time before Earth is struck by a mega asteroid, the impact of which could be many times stronger than a nuclear bomb, according to a leading scientist. The warning came after 2006 QQ23, an asteroid larger than the Eiffel Tower, narrowly missed the planet. On Saturday is passed within 4.6 million miles of Earth, a close shave in space travel terms, whilst moving at 10,400 miles per hour.
Had it struck the planet the resulting explosion could have been 500 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
Danica Remy, president of the California based B612 non-profit foundation, delivered the stark notice.
Speaking to NBC News he said: “It’s 100 percent certain that we’re going to get hit, but it’s not 100 percent certain when.”
An asteroid the size of 2006 QQ23 could flatten a city, potentially killing millions.
Previous asteroid strikes have been even more devastating, such as the one that hit 66 million years ago triggering the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs.
However according to Mr Remy any strike is likely to be smaller, with a more localised impact.
He commented: “The kind of devastation that we’d be looking at is more of at a regional level than a planetary level.
“But it’s still going to have global impact, on transportation, networking, climate and weather.”
NASA believes it has listed all the asteroids that are at least one kilometre in size, and none of those listed are currently on a collision course with Earth.
However a smaller asteroid impact is more likely, such as the 55-foot-wide rock that hit Chelyabinsk in Russia in 2013 injuring over 1,000 people.
In July a 450-foot-wide asteroid came within 40,000 miles of Earth, the largest of its size in a century.
NASA are attempting to identify and track asteroids to avoid surprise collisions.
Kelly Fast, who runs the agency’s Near Earth Object Observation program, commented: “The whole point is to be able to find all of these asteroids and to catalog their orbits precisely and to calculate them into the future.
“So, you know if it is going to pass 19 lunar distances away like 2006 QQ23 or if it is going to pass closer — or if it is going to pose an impact threat.”