NASA is known for tracking dangerous space objects to ascertain whether any are heading towards Earth, and whether they have the potential to cause major damage. The agency recently warned that a huge asteroid is moving towards Earth’s orbital path. This asteroid is said to be twice the size of Big Ben, with the potential to cause damage akin to a nuclear explosion. Thankfully, that’s not actually going to happen as the agency says it’s not colliding with Earth.
According to NASA, this asteroid has the potential of producing 77 megatons of TNT, and is comparable to some of the largest nuclear explosions tested by man. In fact, NASA believes that the energy an asteroid like this can release will be 1.5 times that of the biggest nuclear weapon ever tested, Tsar Bomba. The Tsar Bomba was a bomb tested by the Russians, and the force was 3,333 times that of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima during the Second World War. So, you can imagine the level of damage that this asteroid can cause if it hits Earth.
Asteroids can hit Earth in the future, if they happen to be on the right collision course. Sometimes, smaller asteroids break into smaller pieces when they enter the Earth’s atmosphere (this happens because of the friction with the air) and hardly make an impact when they hit earth. Some dissolve entirely. However, the likelihood of a large asteroid hitting earth and causing widespread damage is not something NASA can rule out. It is believed that a large asteroid hit Earth millions of years ago, killing dinosaurs.
NASA is preparing for the eventuality. One of the experiments the agency is working on is called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). The idea is to crash a spacecraft into an asteroid with enough force to knock it off its path.