Astronaut warns there are '1 million asteroids that could hit Earth'
An astronaut has warned that there are 1 million asteroids that could hit Earth.
Pablo Nespoli, who works for the European Space Agency (ESA), said it was time to act to prevent one of the objects smashing into our planet.
He made the ominous warning during “Asteroid Day” on Tuesday.
Italian flight engineer Nespoli tweeted: “Between small and big, there are more than 1 million asteroids out there that could hit the Earth.
“Right now, we are mostly ignoring the probability of a massive one suddenly appearing. It’s time to act: #AsteroidDay.”
He also posted a short clip of one of the Earth-bound asteroids, filmed during mission 53 in 2017.
Read more: Asteroid more than a mile wide to fly past Earth
Between small and big, there are more than 1 million asteroids out there that could hit the Earth. Right now, we are mostly ignoring the probability of a massive one suddenly appearing. It’s time to act: #AsteroidDay
Here's one from mission 53, 2017. pic.twitter.com/qU5BtshqoE
— Paolo Nespoli (@astro_paolo) June 30, 2020
An asteroid flew past Earth in June, according to Nasa’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office.
The rock, which is known as 163348 (2002 NN4), passed 3.2 million miles by Earth – which is close in cosmic terms.
Asteroid Day, held on 30 June, the anniversary of the 1908 Tunguska impact in Russia, was co-founded in 2014 by astrophysicist and Queen guitarist Dr Brian May.
The event aims to educate people about the good and bad of asteroids.
Read more: Earth just had a near-miss with a 'city killer' asteroid
Organiser the Asteroid Foundation, a Luxembourg nonprofit organisation, said on its website: “Asteroid Day is a dynamic awareness and educational program to inspire the world about asteroids – their role in the formation of our solar system, how we can use their resources, how asteroids can pave the way for future exploration and finally how we can protect our planet from asteroid impacts.”
Events and education programmes to mark the day are independently organised around the world with the support of the UN, space agencies, schools and universities.
Read more: Strange new theory of what caused 'world's biggest impact' over Siberia 100 years ago
One of Asteroid Day’s main aims is to get governments to accelerate the funding of asteroid discovery programmes.
The 100X Asteroid Declaration petition to support this has been signed by leaders in science, technology and business, and more than 125 astronauts.