Yes they could hit us, but NASA says they aren’t likely to anytime soon.
Using a spacecraft known as NEOWISE aka New-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer, NASA hunts down near-Earth objects (NEOs) yearly and submits reports based on their findings.
In their most recent report, NASA has recorded 72 NEOs since 2013—8 of them listed as potentially hazardous.
Although any asteroid at any given time can change it’s course and intersect with Earth’s gravitational pull, identifying these NEOs give NASA a heads-up on the processes necessary for these potential hazards to become real-life threats.
“NEOWISE discovers large, dark, near-Earth objects, complementing our network of ground-based telescopes operating at visible-light wavelengths. On average, these objects are many hundreds of meters across,” NEOWISE’s Principal Investigator Amy Mainzer, said in a NASA release.
But what if NEOWISE doesn’t detect an asteroid? We nuke it.
In their Asteroid and Comet page, NASA says:
“Unless there are a few decades of warning time, hazardous asteroids larger than a few hundred meters in diameter will require enormous energies to deflect or fragment. In the rare case of a large threatening asteroid, nuclear explosions that could push or fragment the object might provide a sufficient response.”
Luckily, NASA is currently working means to redirect incoming asteroids if they’re set to enter Earth’s atmosphere—but not so fast, that project won’t be lifting off until the 2020s.
So how can earthlings aid in NASA’s effort to save our planet?
Participate in the “Asteroid Grand Challenge.”
Find asteroids, win prizes, and possibly—save planet Earth.