On September 13th a fairly large asteroid came within 1.8 million miles of Earth, that may seem quite far way but that’s only about 7.5 times the distance that the Moon is away from Earth. The asteroid is named 2012 QG42 and was only recently discovered on August 26, 2012. Classified as being a PHA or potentially hazardous asteroid, the asteroid itself is estimated to be about 625 to 1,400 feet long but posed a minimal threat to Earth as it flew by. However, it is predicted that the asteroid will be making another trip near our home planet in the distant future that we will have to keep a close eye on.
As recently as March of 2012 we had another asteroid fly by us that was even closer, it was approximately 40,000 miles away which is very close considering the Moon is about 239,000 miles away. That asteroid was about 200 feet wide and had it hit Earth, it would have released about as much energy as one atomic bomb. Obviously it’s extremely important to keep an eye on the large debris that is floating around our solar system and we need to continue to research ways to defend our selves against these giant rocks. NASA claims to know where about 90% of the large PHA category asteroids are in our solar system, but just like 2012 QG42 you never know when one will sneak up on us.
Near Earth Asteroid Chart (NASA)
The largest recorded impact in recent history was the Tunguska event which occurred in Siberia, Russia around 7:14 am local time. The large 220 million-pound asteroid hurdled through Earth’s atmosphere before finally breaking up under tremendous forces and basically exploding causing a massive amount of energy to be released. The explosion was said to be about 1000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, which destroyed about 80 million trees in an area around 850 square miles.
Natives in the area near the impact described seeing light as bright as the sun and experiencing shock waves that knocked them off of their feet. Over the next few days after the impact the skies above Asia and Europe continued to glow as ice particles that were forced high up in the atmosphere reflected sunlight down on Earth from beyond the horizon.