Earth has close encounter of the asteroid kind

Movie history buffs can look over the history of cinema and see trends in the type of movies made during time periods. When it comes to the present day, there seems to be a trend towards offering up anything to do with superheroes. Whether its Iron Man or the Avengers, these films are what is putting money in the pockets of the production companies.

Think back towards the late 90s and one will find a steady stream of disaster movies. Now these are not of the Towering Inferno or Volcano type emergency. No, the flicks during this time frame were the end of time stuff. Movies like Asteroid and Deep Impact spoke to the planet being decimated by an oncoming meteor.

Then there was the Bruce Willis drama called Armageddon. Willis leads a group of deep sea oil drillers onto an asteroid which is headed for Earth. They drill a hole and detonate a nuclear warhead to save the planet. It was classic Hollywood stuff, but it is not real, right? Well, one never knows what could be coming from space.

Tuesday brought an encounter of the unwanted kind for the earth, but this was not one from the big screen. Scientists discovered an asteroid speeding towards Earth. Well, it was speeding, but researchers said there was no real danger of this one hitting the earth. It was close enough though to give people pause, wondering if these Hollywood fictions might become the world’s one day reality.

The sheer size of this asteroid, named 2000 EM26, was enough to scare the wits out of most people. It was estimated to be the size of three football fields, meaning it was 300 yards long. The movies have shown a rather accurate depiction of what could happen if something of this magnitude would hit the Earth’s surface. Life would have a hard time continuing after a strike like that.

While the experts called this asteroid a NEO, or near Earth object, the reality is that it was not as close as it looked. Scientists estimate that it got no closer than nine times the distance of the Moon to the Earth. That is a long way away, but it does not stop these researchers from being concerned about these objects.

One would think that something this big would be easy to spot, but those who are studying these massive objects say that is not the case. There are times when asteroids actually hit the Earth, without the scientists knowing it till the last minute. For reference, one need look no further than the incident in Chelyabinsk, Russia for confirmation.

Researchers were actually tracking another asteroid, which was heading close to the Earth at the time. That rock, named asteroid 2012 DA14, was 98 foot long when it was making its way towards the planet. Out of nowhere, a 65 foot meteor headed towards the Russian city, exploding over the skies with the force of 20 atomic bombs.

That leaves the world to think about one stark reality. These asteroids are out there, and it might be just a matter of time before the right one heads for Earth. Unlike the storybook Hollywood endings though, there is a good chance the Earth might not see it coming till the last minute. If that happens, there will be no crew heading to space to blow it up before it annihilates the planet.