Comet could wipe out life on Earth with just six month’s notice, scientist warns

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Comet could wipe out life on Earth with just six month's notice, scientist warns



A PLANET-busting comet could crash into the Earth and wipe out humanity with less than six months’ warning, a scientist has warned.
Astrobiology researcher Prof Lewis Dartnell says the intergalactic balls of ice and dust could be more dangerous to humanity than asteroids.
Getty – Contributor A comet could crash into the Earth with little warning, a scientist says
Speaking with the Daily Star, the respected author said comets are harder to spot than asteroids because they “come out of nowhere” from the outer reaches of space.
The University of Westminster professor added: “And because comets are falling in towards the sun from much further out, they come in much faster and that could potentially give us much, much less warning if one were to be on a collision course with the Earth.
“Potentially we could have as little as six months notice of a comet that is on its first orbit into the inner solar system on an Earth-crossing trajectory.”
Scientists currently only know about 20,000 potentially dangerous comets despite there being up to one BILLION of them in our solar system.
Typically, comets are made of frozen gas, rock and dust and release gas as they fly close to the sun – letting off gases and debris that give them a “tail”.
The nucleus of a comet, dubbed “dirty snowballs”, can range from six to sixty miles wide.
Prof Dartnell’s warning comes after a Nasa doomsday simulation earlier this month showed a city the size of New York would be wiped out if a space rock smashed into the Earth.
The test showed whether an international team of scientists and engineers could save the planet from a huge 1,000ft-wide asteroid.
The Nasa exercise has become a regular event among the world’s community of “planetary defence” experts who meet in Washington.
Two years ago a simulation just about saved Tokyo after the previous one wiped out Dhaka in 2015 and another in 2013 flattened the French Riviera in 2013.
The nightmarish scenario gave 200 astronomers, engineers and emergency response specialists a warning period of eight years.
What’s the difference between an asteroid, meteor and comet?Here’s what you need to know, according to Nasa…

Asteroid: An asteroid is a small rocky body that orbits the Sun. Most are found in the asteroid belt (between Mars and Jupiter) but they can be found anywhere (including in a path that can impact Earth)
Meteoroid: When two asteroids hit each other, the small chunks that break off are called meteoroids
Meteor: If a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it begins to vapourise and then becomes a meteor. On Earth, it’ll look like a streak of light in the sky, because the rock is burning up
Meteorite: If a meteoroid doesn’t vapourise completely and survives the trip through Earth’s atmosphere, it can land on the Earth. At that point, it becomes a meteorite
Comet: Like asteroids, a comet orbits the Sun. However rather than being made mostly of rock, a comet contains lots of ice and gas, which can result in amazing tails forming behind them (thanks to the ice and dust vapourising)

 

But they failed to deflect ALL of the killer asteroids — roughly measuring 330 to 1,000 feet in diameter.
Initially they were working with a rough calculations that gave a one percent chance of slamming into Earth on April 29, 2027.
Each day during the conference new information emerged.
The teams then made decisions and awaited further updates from the organisers of the simulation game.
But ss fictional months ticked by, the probability of the giant space rock striking Earth rose to 10 percent before rocketing to 100 percent.
It was decided among the major space powers of the United States, Europe, Japan, Russia and China to build six “kinetic impactors” which would be fired at the asteroid to knock it off course.
Three of them managed to hit and deflect it — but a fragment broke off.
Washington considered sending a nuclear bomb to deflect the 200ft rock but this failed to happen because of political squabbles.
With two months before impact, it was confirmed New York would be destroyed.
The asteroid would enter the atmosphere at 43,000 mph before exploding 9.3 miles above Central Park in Manhattan.
The energy of the downward blast would be 1,000 times that of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War 2.
Everything would destroyed within a 9-mile “unsurvivable” radius, scientists said.
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Windows as far as 28 miles away from the epicentre would shatter, with structural damage extend as far as 42 miles.
NASA is currently keeping a concerned eye on Bennu.
The gigantic ‘”apocalypse asteroid” could release 80,000 times more energy than the Hiroshima atomic bomb if it smashed with Earth — potentially ending life by sending dust into the atmosphere which may block out the sun.
Fears are also growing over an asteroid named after the Egyptian god of chaos could obliterate our planet in our lifetimes – and it’s forced a gathering of some of the world’s brightest scientists.
The runaway space rock Apophis is the size of seven London buses and will come worryingly close to our planet several times over the next century. The earliest is 2029, so there’s time to building your shelter.

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