The European Space Agency (ESA) has identified a new asteroid that has a chance of colliding with the planet in the future. Based on the data collected by the agency, the asteroid is large enough to cause a powerful airburst if it hits Earth.
The ESA identified the asteroid as 2020 OM6. It is currently featured in the agency’s Risk List, which is a catalog of asteroids that have non-zero Earth impact probabilities. This means that all asteroids included in the list could collide with Earth in the future.
The chances of the asteroids hitting the planet depend on various factors in space, such as changes in the space rock’s trajectory due to the gravitational pull of nearby large cosmic objects.
According to CNEOS, 2020 OM6 measures about 131 feet wide. The ESA predicted that this asteroid has a chance of hitting Earth on July 13, 2108. The agency noted that 2020 OM6 might hit Earth while traveling at a speed of over 27,000 miles per hour.
Based on its size, 2020 OM6 will most likely not hit the ground and cause an impact event on Earth. Instead, the asteroid will probably burn up in the atmosphere and detonate mid-air, which is similar to what happened in Russia in 2013.
During that time, an asteroid measuring 66-feet wide exploded over a populated city in Russia. The energy from the blast was equivalent to the power of 30 atomic bombs. Although the asteroid did not hit the ground, its explosion was still powerful enough to damage over 7,000 buildings and injure about 1,500 people.
Since 2020 OM6 is significantly bigger than the asteroid that detonated over Russia, it would produce a more powerful and destructive airburst if it were to hit Earth.
Fortunately, the odds of the asteroid colliding with the planet in the future are pretty slim. According to the ESA, 2020 OM6’s chances of hitting Earth in 2108 are one out of 8.7 million.
2020 OM6’s upcoming near-Earth approach is expected to happen on Jan. 28, 2031. During this time, the asteroid will be about 0.02747 astronomical units or about 2.6 million miles from the planet’s surface.
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