Near Earth Objects

Near Earth Objects Near Earth Asteroid

According to the Centre For Near Earth Object Studies, “Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighborhood. Composed mostly of water ice with embedded dust particles, comets originally formed in the cold outer planetary system while most of the rocky asteroids formed in the warmer inner solar system between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The scientific interest in comets and asteroids is due largely to their status as the relatively unchanged remnant debris from the solar system formation process some 4.6 billion years ago.[1]”

Two scales, the Torino scale and the more complex Palermo scale, rate a risk based on how probable the orbit calculations of an identified NEO make an Earth impact and on how bad the consequences of such an impact would be. Some NEOs have had temporarily positive Torino or Palermo scale ratings after their discovery, but as of March 2018, more precise calculations based on longer observation arcs led in all cases to a reduction of the rating to or below 0.

There are two schemes for the scientific classification of impact hazards from NEOs: the simple Torino scale, which rates the risks of impacts in the next 100 years according to impact energy and impact probability, using integer numbers between 0 and 10; and the more complex Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale, which ascribes ratings that can be any positive or negative real number; these ratings depend on the background impact frequency, impact probability and time until possible impact. On both scales, risks of any concern are indicated by values above zero.

The risk posed by these near earth objects relate to the risk that they crash in to the Earth and cause damage on a massive planetary scale. This could cause planetary damage on the scale of hundreds of nuclear weapons or thousands and be an extinction event.

There has been some work done to visit these near earth objects as they can contain a great amount of minerals for earth processing and use in manufacturing.

A great database of upcoming near earth objects can be found here. If you’re curious about potential redirection options for these near earth asteroids, check out our article.


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