A former top astronaut from NASA has warned that a massive, extinction-casing asteroid impact with Earth “could happen.” Leroy Chiao, the former International Space Station commander, has claimed that this “big disaster” could “of course” take place theoretically and that it has already happened in the past. But then, he has also reassured that the chances of this happening sometime in the near future are “pretty small.”
Speaking to RT America, Chiao said, “If you look at the movies that have been made about it, it’s this big disaster. And, of course, it could happen.” He further added, “We know that about 60 million years ago a very large asteroid impacted the Yucatan peninsula and probably wiped out the dinosaurs. And so that kind of thing can happen and does happen periodically. However, I think the chances of it happening are pretty small.”
The comet that he is talking about is the one that supposedly killed the dinosaurs and most sources say that this occurred 66 million years ago. The space object measured between 6.8 to 50.3 miles in diameter. The comet is said to have triggered a mass extinction on the Earth and killed 75% of the species including plants, animals and non-avian dinosaurs.
According to NASA’s asteroid trackers, an asteroid that has a destructive power of 2,700 megatons of explosive TNT risks can slam into the Earth later this year. Known as Asteroid FT3, the comet is said to come past our home planet on October 3, 2019. NASA has said that the flyby will be the first of the 165 that will go by between 2019 and 2116.
While the risk of cataclysm is fairly low in any of these asteroid flybys, but in case an asteroid deviates from its course and collides into the Earth, the results will be devastating.
We should add that Asteroid FT3 is a monstrous and is said to be 1,115ft (340m) in diameter and according to NASA‘s estimates, it weighs 55,000,000,000 kilograms.
It is worth noticing that if an asteroid ever hits the Earth, it will slam into the planet at 20.37 km per second or more than 45,500mph. It is speculated that the force of the impact would be equal to 2,700 megatons of TNT or 2,700,000,000 tonnes of TNT.
For the sake of comparison, the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima in 1945 was in the range of 13 kilotons to 18 kilotons or 18,000 tonnes of TNT. This should give you a fair idea of the kind of destruction that can happen.