NASA have released details of an asteroid, known as JF1, that is heading towards Earth. The rock, a whopping 420ft across, is predicted to collide with the planet on May 6, 2022, with devastating consequences. The American space agency have said that if the asteroid continues on its current trajectory, it could strike with a force of 230 kilotons (230,000 tonnes of TNT).
The impact would be more than 15 times larger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, which liberated energy equivalent to approximately 15 kilotons of TNT.
Scientists have said that if JF1 were to hit a populated area, it would wipe out an entire city instantly, potentially causing millions of deaths.
But they warn that even if it were to splash down in the remotest part of the Pacific Ocean it would still cause devastating tsunamis and a “nuclear winter” that could severely impact life on Earth.
As a result, the asteroid has been flagged for close attention by their near-Earth monitoring system, Sentry.
NASA said: “Sentry is a highly automated collision monitoring system that continually scans the most current asteroid catalogue for possibilities of future impact with Earth over the next 100 years.”
The space agency also said the probability of the rock colliding with East is low.
Nasa believes there is a one in 3,800 odds the asteroid will hit Earth on the expected date of May 6, 2022.
That translates into a 0.026% chance of an and a greater than 99% chance it will miss Earth.
They said there is a “small but appreciable chance” the JF1 could strike the planet.
But because of the sheer size of the asteroid, which is roughly the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza, it will continue to be monitored.
Due the danger posed by a future collision, space agencies around the world are developing ways to avert a possible extinction event.
Researchers and spacecraft engineers from across Europe and the US are working on a mission to “deflect” a space rock and “prove the technique as a viable method of planetary defence”.
This mission is called the Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA) and will attempt to redirect the smaller part of a pre-selected double asteroid called Didymos.
In the first stage of the mission, a spacecraft will deliberately crash into the space rock.
Then a second ship will assess the crash site and gather data on the effects of the collision.
NASA is already working on a craft called Double Asteroid Impact Test, whilst Italy will send a mini satellite to gather data as the mission progresses.
The European Space Agency [ESA] mission, called Hera, will perform “a close-up survey of the post-impact asteroid,” collecting vital information about such as the asteroid’s composition as well as the size of the crater left behind after impact.
Ian Carnelli, controller of the ESA Hera mission said: “DART can perform its mission without Hera – the effect of its impact on the asteroid’s orbit will be measurable using Earth ground-based observatories alone.”