Scientists are telling us there is a lot bigger chance of being hit by a meteor than they thought. Until lately, they had estimated that about 3 million space rocks bigger than Buicks were whizzing around the neighborhood of Earth, with some chance of a few of them entering Earth’s atmosphere.
Now, they are telling a different story, after Earth actually was hit by a meteor the size of three Buicks last February, in Russia. They are saying 20 million such dangerous rocks are stalking the region of Earth’s orbit.
The thing that bothers the scientists is that they didn’t see the one that hit Russia coming. They were tracking another rock — one they were sure wouldn’t hit Earth, and you can imagine their surprise when one they hadn’t seen actually did make impact.
Astronomers have been making a fairly big deal about being able to spot asteroids headed our way. They request bigger budgets, saying that they can give us plenty of warning when a major asteroid appears to be targeting us. Then, maybe we could do something about it — like run for the hills.
If a big enough meteor hits us (a meteor is an asteroid that has entered our atmosphere) it could either cause more global warming — or another ice age. Those big meteors — ones the size of aircraft carriers, for example — generate a lot of heat when they hit. Perhaps they give off enough heat to raise the temperature of the earth. It is a possibility, say those who worry about these things.
Or, a hit by a meteor could cause global cooling by kicking up enough dust in the air to cut us off from the sun for enough time to freeze things up again. If you think Obamacare is a worry, just imagine how we’d all fret wondering what a meteor was going to do to us.
The one that hit over Russia injured 1,700 people, and scared the living daylights out of thousands more. It broke a lot of windows, knocked down a lot of buildings. But now, the city above which it exploded, Chelyabinsk, is a tourist attraction.
Perhaps all that money we’re spending on astronomy is worth it after all.