By Charlotte Edwards, The SunJanuary 30, 2022 9:17am UpdatedNASA issues warning about asteroids heading for Earth undetectedVideo Player is loading.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.496.0_en.html#goog_1615803938
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An asteroid isn’t expected to crash into Earth anytime soon but space agencies keep an eye out for them just in case.
Depending on the size of the space rock, an asteroid impact could be an extinction level event and researchers have created simulations to see how bad it could be.
What would happen if an asteroid hit Earth?
If you’ve seen the Netflix film Don’t Look Up, you may be concerned about potential asteroid impacts.
However, not all asteroids would mean the end of humanity.
The space rock would have to be pretty large to kill us all.
Scientists think the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs was about 7.5 miles wide.
If an asteroid that size hit Earth today, things would instantly change due to the force of the impact and its knock on effect on the environment.
Experts think we’d experience fires, shock waves, heat radiation, a large crater, acid rain and giant tsunamis if the asteroid hits water.
Britt Scharringhausen, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Beloit College, told Inverse: “All of the ash from the fires and all of the finer-grain debris from the impact will hang out in the atmosphere for a long time, and we get what’s called an impact winter.
“It’s going to block the sunlight, and all that ash falling into the ocean acidifies the top layers.
“So you burn things, kill everything in the ocean, and freeze the Earth, and it goes through about two years of constant winter.”
Scharringhausen doesn’t think that all life on Earth would die after a large asteroid impact.
Some small creators survived the asteroid strike that killed the dinosaurs.
If humans took the right precautions, it is possible that they could survive too.
Scharringhausen explained: “Not everything will die. If we’re thinking about people, the way to survive would be to get underground.
“You could maybe ride it out in a bunker if you’ve got the supplies to make it through that period of winter where you can’t grow any edible food.
“Maybe the finicky crops that humans like to grow won’t come through it so well, but there’s that seed repository, so if those are well-protected enough, you could get agriculture restarted.”
Plans to save Earth from asteroids
Some experts are worried that Earth isn’t yet ready to defend itself from potentially deadly asteroids.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk once sparked concern by tweeting: “a big rock will hit Earth eventually & we currently have no defense.”
Nasa is looking into to some defence methods though.
It recently launched its Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission.
Nasa said: “DART is the first-ever mission dedicated to investigating and demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection by changing an asteroid’s motion in space through kinetic impact.”
The DART craft should slam into a small asteroid called Dimorphos in September with the aim of moving it off course.