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Doomsday Prophecy? Yes, say Experts as Massive Asteroid 1950 DA May Hit Earth on March 16, 2880

Courtesy: Nature

Courtesy: Nature

What happens if Asteroid 1950 DA, speeding at 9 miles per second hits Earth wiping out the entire life on it? Researchers are seriously studying the possible collision, with a chance of one in 300 though the Doomsday prediction is more than 8 centuries away on March 16, 2880.

The University of Tennessee scientists say the chances are bleak but if it hits Earth, it cannot withstand the force of 44,800 megatonnes of TNT. The 1950 DA asteroid, with a diameter of 1 km, is travelling at 61,155km (38,000 miles) per hour would explode everything, cause tsunamis, earthquakes and change the climate, wipe out life on Earth.

The kilometre-sized asteroid (29075) 1950 DA is a rubble pile that is rotating faster than is allowed by gravity and friction. Scientists find that cohesive forces are required to prevent surface mass shedding and structural failure, and that the strengths of the forces are comparable to the forces found between the grains of lunar regolith.

“Previous research has shown that asteroids are loose piles of rubble held together by gravity and friction. However, the UT team found that 1950 DA is spinning so quickly that it defies these forces,” said the team of UT scientists. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v512/n7513/full/nature13632.html

Ben Rozitis, a postdoctoral researcher, says the 1950 DA’s rotation is faster than the breakup limit for its density. The speed of the near-Earth rotation is so high at the equator that it would experience negative gravity.

The February 2013 incident on Chelyabinsk in Russia left nearly 1,500 people injured due to an undetected meteor that exploded over the city. It had an energy of 30 times more than the Hiroshima bomb. It injured many people who just looked at the spiralling fireball.

While asteroid update has intensified ever since, the asteroid 1950 DA that is ‘gravity-defying’ requires diversion immediately to avoid possible future shock to human beings. “Understanding what holds these asteroids together can inform strategies to guard against future impacts,” Rozitis said.

One possible way they are planning is to disintegrate the gravity forces holding the asteroid together. If scientists could make small changes to its outer surface, it would disrupt the cohesive forces and disintegrate itself in outer space itself before reaching Earth, said the scientists team in a an article published in the science journal ‘Nature’.

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