Earth could be hit by an asteroid the size of a Boeing 737 this year

By Rhona Shennan
Monday, 24 June, 2019, 12:28
With a one in 7000 chance of collision, there's no need to panic just yet (Photo: Shutterstock)

An asteroid (called “2006QV89”) roughly the length of a Boeing 737 is expected to make its way past Earth in September this year - with a one in 7000 chance of collision.

The asteroid made it on to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) “risk list”.

The ESA’s risk list reports the details of asteroids that may hit Earth and currently there are 866 near-Earth asteroids on the list.

The ESA explains: “The Risk List is a catalogue of all objects for which a non-zero impact probability has been detected.”

Chances of hitting Earth

The ESA is keeping an eye on the asteroid’s route, but the rock is unlikely to crash into Earth and only has a one in 7,000 chance of doing so.

According to NASA’s predictions, there is a 99.989 per cent chance the asteroid will miss us in September.

According to the ESA, the asteroid is estimated to get as close as 4.2 million miles to Earth - for context, the moon is around 2.9 thousand miles away.

What would happen if it hit Earth?

An asteroid the size of this one would not be big enough to wipe out humanity, but it would still cause some considerable damage if it struck Earth, or disintegrated in the atmosphere.

In February 2013, an asteroid around half the size of this one began to come apart in Earth’s atmosphere at an altitude of 28 miles above Chelyabinsk, in Russia.

Travelling at a speed of 12 miles per second, the Guardian reported that “the rock exploded with the energy of around 500 kilotonnes of TNT.”

Beneath the asteroid, the strength of the shockwave was powerful enough to take people off their feet, shatter the windows of more than 3,000 apartment blocks and collapse a factory roof.

Over 1,500 people were injured and 7,200 buildings were damaged.

This article originally appeared on our sister site Edinburgh Evening News