[meteorite-list] Huge Asteroids Could Hit Earth At Any Time, Says Expert

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:41:53 2004
Message-ID: <200101041703.JAA21030_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Huge asteroids could hit Earth at any time, says expert
January 3, 2001

An academic has warned that a US citizen is more likely to die from an
asteroid impact than from floods.

Sir Crispin Tickell told delegates at a conference in Plymouth that an
asteroid impact with Earth could happen at any time but governments are
better prepared for a nuclear war.

He said the probability of dying in an aircraft accident was one in 20,000,
from an asteroid impact one in 25,000, from a flood one in 30,000 and from
food poisoning one in three million.

The Chancellor of the University of Kent presented a paper called
Catastrophes from Space: Prospects for Planetary Defence to the Royal
Geographical Society's annual conference.

He highlighted the Chicxulub event of 65,000 million years ago when an
object 10km in diameter hit the earth, creating a dust cloud which reduced
temperatures, then led to a rapid greenhouse effect and so led to the demise
of the dinosaurs.

"Fortunately such major events are extremely rare. But they have occurred at
very roughly 100 million-year intervals throughout the history of the earth
and could, at least in theory, happen at any time."

He suggested no object over 1km in diameter was likely to hit earth within
the next 50 years but warned impacts from smaller objects could still have a
major effect.

Sir Crispin was part of the Taskforce on Potentially Hazardous Near Earth
Objects which has presented its findings to the Government and is now
awaiting a response. He said they had concluded a greatly improved
telescopic network could predict extra-terrestrial events and a national and
international response was needed.

"This is not a fantasy of such films as Deep Impact or Armageddon," he said.
Received on Thu 04 Jan 2001 12:03:56 PM PST

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