A group of scientists has confirmed that over 21,000 asteroids that can hit Earth have just been discovered. Many of these asteroids can release energy equivalent to multiple nuclear bombs if they end up colliding with the planet.

Space agencies such as NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have various systems in place that monitor asteroids that pose a threat to Earth. These space rocks have been referred to as near-Earth objects (NEOs) due to their natural orbits.

According to the organizers of Asteroid Day, space agencies have only identified a fraction of the entire asteroid population in space. This means there are still undiscovered asteroids out there that can seriously threaten Earth.

Recently, the Asteroid Day organizers released a statement to confirm that over 21,000 new asteroids have been identified. According to the organizers, these asteroids are big enough to release high levels of energy if they hit the planet or explode in its atmosphere.

“There are several tens of millions of NEOs larger than 10 meters in size that would have an energy larger than a small nuclear weapon if they entered the Earth’s atmosphere, and we have identified just 21,443, as of 5th November, 2019,” they said in a press release.

As explained by the organizers, many of these asteroids are remnants of planetary formation and have diameters that range from a couple of meters to tens of kilometers. They noted that the newly discovered asteroids indicate just how vulnerable Earth is to suffering an impact event.

“As with Earth, NEOs orbit the Sun and sometimes they come dangerously close or cross Earth’s trajectory – potentially causing impacts,” the organizers stated. “This has happened several times in the past and one day it will happen again.”

Due to the constant threat posed by asteroids, the Asteroid Day organizers emphasized the need for better planetary defense measures. Currently, NASA and the ESA are working on a joint mission that will test if large asteroid can be safely deflected away from Earth.

“We want to learn how we can interact with such bodies and how we might change their trajectories before an asteroid is identified to be on a collision course with Earth,” the organizers said.