An extinction level event from an asteroid impact is among the most common cause of extinction for many species in the history of life on Earth. Neil deGrasse Tyson explains in detail the possibility of an asteroid impact from the asteroid named Apophis after the ancient Egyptian deity who embodied chaos, its estimated diameter is between 1,115 and 1,214 feet. Additional observations cleared up the concern of a direct impact. Apophis is expected to pass close to Earth in 2029, 2036 and again in 2068.
Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the details if Apophis were to hit near the coastline of North America.
Asteroids are rocky fragments left over from the formation of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. Most of the asteroids orbit between Jupiter and Mars, where the Jupiter's gravity prevents them from ever combining into a larger body.
There are, however, asteroids and comets that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth's neighbourhood. These are called Near Earth objects or NEOs.
NEOs are not yet well understood; they have only been tracked for a few years, and their orbits are usually very uncertain. It is difficult to predict how close an object will come to Earth, or where it will hit.
An asteroid impact on Earth could have catastrophic consequences depending on the composition of the asteroid and the location of impact. An asteroid is likely to make a crater upon impact with Earth, causing massive destruction within a radius of hundreds of miles. This crater is likely to be hazardous for some time following the impact. Moreover, a major asteroid collision could cause general disruption to climate and weather systems on Earth.
At the end of the Cretaceous Period, 65 million years ago, an asteroid hit Earth in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, forming what is today called the Chicxulub impact crater. This impact caused a mass extinction in which 75% of plant and animal species on Earth became extinct, including all non-avian dinosaurs.
According to Neal DeGrasse Tyson, "If an asteroid is found to be on a collision course with Earth, instead of trying to blow it up, the main goal would be to nudge it out of its path, avoiding an unpleasant end to civilization."
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