February 21, 2020
A computer algorithm from Leiden University in the Netherlands has spotted eleven asteroids that could eventually hit Earth and cause ‘unprecedented devastation’.
All were missed by NASA software thanks to their chaotic orbits, which are difficult for current techniques to predict and identify as being potentially dangerous.
Each are more than 328 feet (100 metres) in diameter and will pass closer to our planet than ten times the distance between the Earth and the moon.
For comparison, the Tunguska object which flattened 772 square miles of forest in Siberia had a diameter of around 164–262 feet (50–80 metres).
However, these space rocks won’t pose a threat in our lifetime, however — for they will only get worryingly near to Earth between the years 2131 and 2923.
In their study, astronomer and simulation expert Simon Portegies Zwart and colleagues trained a so-called neural network — an algorithm modelled on the human brain that can study patterns — to hunt for potentially dangerous asteroids.
To do this, they first modelled the orbits of the Sun and its planets over the next 10,000 years, tracking the relative positions of the different bodies.
This article was posted: Friday, February 21, 2020 at 4:48 am