• Earth gets hit by tiny asteroids every day
  • There are asteroids capable of causing major impact events
  • Astronomers use a special program to track rogue asteroids

A scientist explained how astronomers and space agencies such as NASA can track rogue asteroids that have the potential to hit Earth. Although detecting these asteroids can be tricky, the scientist noted that astronomers have already developed a system for finding them.

Earth gets hit by tiny asteroids every day. Since the diameters of these space rocks are only about a couple of millimeters wide, these tiny asteroids burn up and disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere.

Unfortunately, these aren’t the only asteroids that have the potential to hit Earth. According to Alan Harris, the emeritus professor and senior scientist at the German Aerospace Center, there are massive asteroids in space that are big enough to cause major impact events on the planet.

As noted by Harris, some of these killer asteroids are capable of wiping out entire countries. Although astronomers are aware of the presence of these massive asteroids, many of them are yet to be identified.

Given the natural color of these asteroids, finding them against the dark backdrop of space can get a bit tricky. Fortunately, astronomers have already developed a way on how to find new or rogue asteroids.

According to Harris, astronomers and agencies have programs in space that can detect fast-moving objects. These programs often rely on stars to find asteroids.

“They look for objects which are moving fairly rapidly against the background of stars because stars don’t appear to move because they’re so far away,” Harris told Express. “But asteroids passing much nearer to the Earth actually can be seen moving across the background stars even during a single night.”

“And so they take the exposures of as much of the sky as they can per night,” he continued.

Once they discover a new asteroid, astronomers try to predict its trajectory by plotting its path across the Solar System. Doing so allows them to determine the distance the asteroid will approach Earth from. Aside from this, tracking an asteroid’s flight path will also show if it is in danger of colliding with Earth.

“And if the object possibly could hit the Earth, you obviously need to have as accurate an orbit as possible and therefore it is important to keep on tracking this newly-discovered nearest object for as long as possible,” Harris explained.

Image: Artist illustration of an asteroid heading for the Earth Pixabay