Science » Technologies and discoveries
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Giant Asteroid May Strike Earth in 2880

The strike may generate tsunamis up to 122 meters high

1950DA asteroid will fly near Earth in 2880. What will happen, if it collides with planet Earth? American scientists have already simulated the situation. The asteroid was first discovered 53 years ago. It is the only space rock of the many thousands discovered so far, which is considered to be a potential threat to Earth. According to recent calculations, the giant asteroid might collide with planet Earth on Saturday, March 16th, 2880.

Dr Steven Ward and Dr Erik Asphaug of the University of California at Santa Cruz conducted a detailed computer simulation of the collision with 1950DA. The results of the research have been published in the June issue of Geophysical Journal International magazine. If a 107-meter wide asteroid slams into Earth, it will most likely fall in one of the oceans that take 70 percent of the Earth's surface. If the collision happens in the Atlantic, it would generate tsunamis up to 122 meters high. Such waves will drown the entire east coast of the USA, western coasts of Portugal, France, Great Britain and Ireland.

Usually astronomers observe asteroids for months and years, determining their orbits around the Sun. These data are then used to calculate changes into the future with more precision. In this way, astronomers have already calculated orbits of thousands of asteroids, which were considered potentially dangerous.

However, 1950DA asteroid is the most dangerous one for the time being. It is the only space rock that might collide with Earth in the current millennium. Such events happened many times in the past from a geological perspective. Huge asteroids the size of 1950DA have struck Earth about 600 times, since the era of the dinosaurs. Yet, the probability of a direct collision with the planet is only about 0,3 percent. This probability will either grow or decrease in connection with future calculations, observations and other planets' gravitation influence on the asteroid. It is a low threat so far, albeit the most important one in comparison with all other asteroids.

Asteroid 1950DA is not so large to destroy life on Earth, as it happened 65 million years ago, when another huge space rock ran into the planet. However, potential consequences are enormous. They will look like the scenario of Hollywood movies Deep Impact, in which an asteroid hits an ocean, or Armageddon, when it falls down on land. In the movies, they showed one big wave, but a fall of a large asteroid will actually cause dozens of tsunamis. The first ones to arrive will be rather small, although they will gradually increase in height. Based on the assumption that the asteroid would strike the Atlantic at 61,000 km/h, the scientists predicted it will blow a hole all the way down to the sea bed and 18 km across. As water rushes back into the hole, the impact would create tsunamis which would spread across the Atlantic and the Caribbean. The two scientists assumed that the asteroid would strike Earth 580 kilometers off the USA's eastern coast, they calculated that 122-meter waves would reach land. Eight hours later, waves would become up to 15 meters high, when they reach the western coast of Europe.

However, the asteroid will most likely hit the Pacific Ocean, for it is the largest ocean on the planet. In this case, it will strike the whole Australian continent, eastern China, the Russian Far East, and entire South East Asia. Such a scenario would cause a lot more victims. On the other hand, the humanity will find methods to struggle with asteroids and the threat will most likely be dismissed.

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