Scientists have discovered that there is a 1 in 300 chance that a huge asteroid, called 1950 DA, will collide with Earth in the year 2880. If the asteroid does hit Earth, is expected to collide with the planet at a speed of 33,800, which scientists say would create a explosive force equal to around 44,800 megatons of TNT.  The impact would probably destroy human life on the planet as we know it.

However, researchers at the University of Texas are looking into ways to possible destroy or divert the asteroid before it hits. Luckily for them, they have a lot of time, as the giant rock is not expected to hit Earth until the year 2880.

It was recently discovered that some asteroids, like the massive 1950 DA, are not held together by gravity. The asteroid 1950 DA is actually spinning too quickly to be held together by gravity, meaning that it “defies gravity.”

“We found that 1950 DA is rotating faster than the breakup limit for its density,” said Ben Rozitis, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tennessee. “So if just gravity were holding this rubble pile together, as is generally assumed, it would fly apart. Therefore, interparticle cohesive forces must be holding it together.”

Asteroid 1950 DA, which has a diameter of one kilometer, is currently rotating once every two hours and six minutes as it travels through space as the amazingly fast speed of nine miles per second. It is held together by cohesive forces, called van der Waal forces.

By learning more about these cohesive forces and how they keep asteroids like 1950 DA together, scientists think that they may be able to stop the huge asteroid from ever hitting the planet.

“Following the February 2013 asteroid impact in Chelyabinsk, Russia, there is renewed interest in figuring out how to deal with the potential hazard of an asteroid impact,” explained Rozitis.

“Understanding what holds these asteroids together can inform strategies to guard against future impacts.”

A study of the asteroid 1950 DA was published in the journal Nature.

45 Responses

  1. congressive

    So if Marco Polo had discovered that an asteroid would wipe out the earth, or at least millions of humans and devastate civilization in 2014, and all he had to do was spend a tiny portion of taxpayer money to avoid the whole thing, he should have said “screw it. I’m taking a nap.” – OK.

    The arrogance of the intentionally uneducated, not natural disasters, will be the undoing of mankind long before 2880, anyway.

      • congressive

        Oh, a clever retort. Touche. Thank you for illustrating my point.

  2. Melete

    News Flash! Scientists calculate that hyperbolic doomsaying sells 98.7% more newspapers!

  3. Bob Jarvis

    If, by 2880 (eight hundred and sixty-four years in the future), the human race has not already managed to annihilate itself, and *if* this 1-in-300 chance happens to occur – well, I guess I’ll let the people who are alive then worry about it.

  4. Scientists calculate a Huge Asteroid to possibly hit & destroy Earth in 2880 | On Reddit

    […] by angrypotato1 [link] [5 comments] […]

  5. cyberpsych

    It will take at least 800 years for congress to admit that there are such things as asteroids and then do something about it a couple of days before it hits.

  6. nicholas hmmmmm

    how about they land a team on the asteroid and drill a hole and drop in some nukes and blow it up ???

    • Hah!

      Have fun trying to land a spaceship on an object 1km big going over 33,000 mph…make sure you have a GoPro cam when you do it, and send me the video so I can get the as revenue from the billions of views I’ll get on YouTube.

      • my2centz

        You can also just watch the movie about it.

      • doctorBones

        Didn’t they just do something similar?

    • my2centz

      Maybe they can get Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton to lead it.

  7. Bob

    “If the asteroid does hit Earth, is expected to collide with the planet at a speed of 33,800

    So, that would be 33,800… Miles per Hour? Kilometers per second? Inches per Week? Lightyears per Eon? Fathoms per Fortnight? Parsecs per Parsec?

    And he misses the “it” before the “is”. And the site uses Algerian font (much much worse than Comic Sans; everyone knows this). And the site is named “The West Side Story” – which was a FICTIONAL story!

    Take your pick, then leave this site and never return. This is truly a very “bad” site. Even though it allows anonymous commenting.

    • Bob Jarvis

      What? You’re expecting spelling, grammar, and content checking from an “online journalist”? Oh, puh-leeze! That ended with the collapse of print journalism 10 years ago. Nowadays you get whatever these guys learned in sixth grade… 🙂

      • Bob Jarvis

        I didn’t say “through” – I said “in”. For some people that’s as far as they get… 🙂

  8. hambdiscus

    Should we expend a great deal of time, energy and money in devising a means by which we could deflect or destroy i950 DA? Or should we instead devote those resources to solve the nagging social and political problems that plague our society, to find cures for or eliminate the myriad of diseases that kill millions annually, to discover and implement new clean sources of energy, to cooperatively build a world order such that the least of us will enjoy a long, fruitful life free from want, hunger and strife?

    The 1:300 chance that this earth will be savaged by 1950 DA is simply a SWAG and nothing more.

    • Bob Jarvis

      1-in-300 chances of something happening 800+ years in the future and you *dare* to characterize is as SWAG?!? SIR! Frankly I don’t feel this rises even to the level of SWAG. This is doom-and-gloom bullsh*tting at it’s finest.

      Say…anybody got any idea what the chances are for a nearby supernova in the next 800 years? Something that would not only wipe out the human race but every living thing down to the level of the most miniscule virus, for tens of light years in every direction? Hmmmm..?

  9. Chico

    Mark Labbe………………………GO TO THE BACK OF THE CLASS!!!
    Talk about DUMB

  10. Terry Kappel

    Gaedelstl, it’s a mathematical probability. Imagine an angle with a target trajectory the with of the earth. The imagine the starting point of the asteroid 866 years away times the estimated average speed of the asteroid presuming the constant rate of 33,800 miles per hour. Now imagine if you can the tiny tiny radium (degree of angle) which the asteroid would have to travel within in order to strike the earth within that small with of the earth over that vast distance.

    Now consider that the constant rate of speed doesn’t actually exist in the universe, the straight line path of the asteroid is affected by the gravity of other bodies it flies past. Consider also that we have not calculated most of the trajectory, and of all the other asteroids and meteors, particularly the smaller ones, each which may affect the path of the asteroid. What about possible changes in the asteroid as it whizzes around the solar system for 866 years, could bits break off, changing the weight shape etc, which might also change the path of an object to a slight degree, over time changing the angle and thus course over many miles over years.

    As with anything in nature, and in life, there are unpredictable variables (see the “butterfly effect”) which are thus factored into mathematical probability formulas, which,over 866 years can add a whole lot of unpredictability in any mathematical calculation.

    So, over the length of time and the minuscule trajectory needed over such a great distance and the degree of unknowable variables, a one in 300 chance is a pretty low probability. How many other things can we predict 866 years in advance to a lower probability?

    Also, what if the said asteroid still impacts the earth but it happens a little earlier than this particular calculation, or a little later?

    Weather forecasters cannot always predict whether it will snow or rain in a particular town, due again to the enormous range of variables, many of which are unpredictable (see again the Butterfly effect). They usually offer probabilities even an hour before the weather is calculated to hit a region, because they simply cannot predict all of the variables. So, calculating an event so far removed is a pretty challenging task.

    What’s more this is only one asteroid. What about the millions of other asteroids hurling around our solar system for which no one has taken the time to calculate trajectories for? Physical evidence still exists all around our planet of massive impacts during human history, despite the affects of erosive forces. The moon, without most of these forces shows much more of the legacy of impacts from meteors and asteroids. If the moon had so many pock marks the earth which is bigger and with a stronger gravity pull, surely has had as many and probably more over its history.

    What’s more the archaeological record shows mass extinction events have occurred many times in the past on our planet, so it stands to reason that one will occur again at some point.

    So, I would argue that your sense of security over a 1-300 probability might be overly confident. Not that either of us will be around in 866 years. But, it’s the millions of other asteroids and meteors which have not had trajectories calculated for them that we might want to be more concerned with. If one asteroid will have a 1-300 chance of hitting us. Is it possible there are another 866 asteroids out there which have a 1-866 probability of hitting us sometime in the 866 years?

    The probability of one of the others will hit us is what worries me. You might be able to go on with your life and not care about the possibility of such a catastrophe, living your live day to day to its fullest. I probably will too. But, future generations still unborn, might live to appreciate it if we were far thinking enough to consider steps to take now to deflect possible civilization ending events. It might at least be wise to do more to calculate more trajectories and orbits of meteors and asteroids. Even the smaller ones could do horrific damage to a city or a nation, perhaps even a continent.

    I think that is a point well worth taking away from this article, if you have not done so already.

    That’s my perspective, I welcome your response.

    • gaedelstl

      I have no sense of security at all that some heavenly object will not strike the Earth with horrific results in the next 866 years, if not sooner. I also have concerns about rising sea levels, war, famine, diseases, super-volcanic eruptions and a host of other things that could impact the nature of human existence on the planet, perhaps a very long time before the Earth eventually (and inevitably, in my view) is struck by such an object. But, as I stated in a reply above, that’s not my issue. It’s with the writing. I think if the author had gone down a path of – “gee, there’s one asteroid that has a 1 in 300 chance of hitting us in 800+ years, but the with the number of things crossing our path and all of their varying probabilities, there is a 1 in 10 chance that we will be hit in the next 50 years. So scientists are looking at this and I’m damn glad that they are trying to figure out a way to make us safer”, I wouldn’t have taken issue. But even at that, a 1 in 10 chance would mean it would still be unexpected, albeit not overly surprising. An event is expected, as a matter of logic, only when it is more likely to occur than to not occur. Doesn’t mean we should ignore it.

      • doctorBones

        “Please Mr Gaedelstl take your meds” the mental health workers begged the patient before they had to restrain him.

    • Bob Jarvis

      Oh, come on. 800+ years out the trajectory of this rock is going to get twitched back and forth so many times by so many bodies that predicting its future impact is like sticking your hand into the pickle jar and pulling out *your own* slip in a give-away drawing! This article is pure BS, and the writer knows it. Absolutely guaranteed that by the time this *might* become of interest, EVERYBODY READING THIS WILL HAVE PASSED ON! ALL THE READERS WILL HAVE CEASED TO BE! WE WILL ‘AVE EXPIRED AND GONE TO MEET OUR MAKERS! BEREFT OF LIFE, WE WILL REST IN PEACE! OUR METABOLIC PROCESSES WILL ‘AVE LONG SINCE BEEN ‘ISTORY! WE WILL ‘AVE KICKED THE BUCKET, SHUFFLED OFF OUR MORTAL COILS, RUNG DOWN THE CURTAIN AND JOINED THE BLEEDIN’ CHOIR INVISIBLE! WE, SIR, WILL BE EX-READERS!!!!!

  11. gaedelstl

    “the giant rock is not expected to hit Earth until the year 2880”? The giant rock is just not expected to hit Earth, period. A 1 in 300 chance, 1/3 of 1%. Generally, if something does not occur 299 times out of 300, most rational people would say that it is not expected that it will happen.

    • cmatthybr

      Maybe the stupidest post I’ve ever seen in my life. An asteroid like this would most likely end all human life on earth. We should definitely try to do something about it, no matter how small the chances of it hitting.

      • Nathan Merrill

        This is simply false.

        First off, this isn’t news. The odds of the asteroid hitting Earth are absurdly low, and the supposed 1 in 300 odds have been known since 2003.

        Secondly, it wouldn’t “destroy Earth”. This guy obviously has no idea what he’s talking about. The rock is tiny compared to earth. It would make a decent sized crater, but it certainly wouldn’t cause that much damage. The headline was written by someone who obviously has no scientific literacy.

        Thirdly, impactors of this size hit the Earth relatively frequently. 1.1-1.4 km is a pretty big rock, but it isn’t THAT big, and isn’t enough to cause a global mass extinction; the idea that it would wipe out life on Earth is simple nonsense. Rocks that big hit the Earth every few million years, and yet, they don’t cause mass extinctions – it is 2-3 orders of magnitude too small to cause a mass extinction, most likely.

        Would we want to get hit by it? No, we’d rather not. But it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

      • cmatthybr

        I wouldn’t really consider 1 in 300 to be “absurdly low,” and I wasn’t referring only to this one asteroid in my post. I was simply stating that we should make some kind of effort to prevent space junk from striking our planet. To think we should make no such effort would be simply foolish.

      • Rubin Safaya

        1 in 300 are cosmically high odds. The concern is, for anyone who understands how gravity works, that only a very minor shift in trajectory can draw it away from a parabolic course and into Earth’s path…. Earth’s gravity is already attracting the asteroid by the time the odds are in the thousands.

        A 44,800 megaton force is enough to cause a global catastrophe and wipe out quite a bit of human population especially given the trend in population density increase.

        So while there’s always some degree of hyperbole in articles like this on the internet, the attention scientists have put on it to find solutions is important as planning and developing countermeasures for the first time will be a fairly long term effort.

      • Bob Jarvis

        OK, Rube – tell ya what. *YOU* stay up nights worrying. Me? I’m sleeping blissfully… 🙂

      • WHITEandSMART-and-Redundant

        There is one born every minute.

        Rather than worry about the 1 in 300 odds, I would be more interested in seeing the purported calculation of the probability.

      • Bob Jarvis

        Really? 1-in-300 isn’t “absurdly low”? OK, how ’bout this – you go to Vegas, offer to bet on the “1” side if they can find something that has a 1-in-300 chance of occurring, and you put $1000 on it. Lemme tell you, they’ll snap up that bet so fast you won’t believe it. So, how’re you feelin’ about them odds now?

      • Chico

        How bout we shoot you into space………………

      • John

        Who cares?I am sure since then all the Human race will die…You know Human stuff..Global warming and stuff?We will suicide before that shit..

      • doctorBones

        LOL! Global Warming? Most of it isn’t man-made so please stop with the political correctness.

      • Sutarmekeg

        Maybe the stupidest post I’ve ever seen in my life. Very well then, go on, get out there with your sandwich board and alert people of this looming disaster before it’s too late.

      • doctorBones

        No. Your post is the stupidest in history. In 800 years science will be advanced beyond your (obviously) limited imagination and we will easily be able to deflect or destroy it. A farmer or businessman from 1850 would think you were nuts if you could have told him that in 150 years we would have flown to the moon, there was this thing called TV and people could easily communicate across the globe.

      • cmatthybr

        I know. I don’t disagree with any of that. Everyone misinterpreted my post for some reason. I was only making the point that something should be done to try prevent asteroids from hitting the earth – that was it, nothing more, nothing less.

    • msaad

      you have a very big problem with ‘probability’ and ‘possibility.’ 1 in 300 in probability does not mean the asteroid can not hit the earth.

      • gaedelstl

        I have no problem with probability and possibility. And I never said that we should ignore the possibility and do nothing. My comment was specifically surrounding language used by the author. You cannot on one hand say “there is a 1 in 300 chance” that this asteroid will hit the Earth and, on the other say “it is not expected to hit the Earth until 2880”. It’s the equivalent to saying that there is a 1 in 300 chance that I will die in October from a shark attack, but that I’m not expected to be attacked until October. I’m not expected to be attacked (by the stated probability)! It’s crappy writing, borderline sensationalism, and not accurate. Now, as a safety precaution, I might not go swimming off the Barrier Reef. But, whether I do or not, the probability is low enough (that the event would occur) that it would be unexpected. With the asteroid, I assume that the 1 in 300 odds will either go up substantially or down substantially as the 866 year window closes.

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