NASA says chances of an asteroid hitting Earth have increased

In something out of a Bruce Willis movie, NASA has launched a one way space probe in an attempt to knock a meteor off its course. Luckily, the sci-fi-like mission is only an experiment with no real danger posed to earth.

Its aim is to discover whether or not crashing a projectile into an asteroid could in theory be a solution for defending earth from a more threatening space rock in the future.

This news will be a welcome relief to many, with humanity being wiped out by a meteorite in a similar way to their dinosaur predecessors a common worry for people – but there's good reason to think those fears irrational.

While this extinction-scale disaster might not be something to worry about for this afternoon, scientists have said the chances of it happening could be higher than first thought, with scientists watching one comet in particular that is posing slightly more of a threat than others.

What are the chances of an asteroid hitting Earth?

The chances of the comet Bennu striking earth has rose from 2,700 to one to 1,750 to one for the next 200 years.

It is one of the two most hazardous known comets in this solar system and has been closely monitored by NASA spacecraft Osiris-Rex, which is currently on its way back to earth having collected space dust from it.

Beyond Bennu, there are millions of asteroids that could hit earth.

Fortunately most of these are small, and wouldn't have the potential to make it through earth's atmosphere.

Bigger ones are very rare and, according to Science Focus, meteorites of the scale that wiped out the dinosaurs are one in 100 million year events.

Rocks about 100 meters wide are expected to reach earth every 1000 years; earlier this year a British scientist uncovered evidence suggesting that a 1000 meter-wide rock crashed into Antarctica 430,000 years ago.

What are the chances of a meteorite hitting my house?

The odds, experts says, are tiny: "You have a better chance of getting hit by a tornado and a bolt of lightning and a hurricane all at the same time", says Michael Reynolds, a Florida State College astronomer and an author on a book about meteorites.

Despite these reassuring numbers, thousands of tiny meteorites are thought to hit earth each year. Most however land in the oceans or on unpopulated land.

In 2016, rumours that a man in India had been killed by a meteor circulated around news wires but experts struggled to confirm the reports, while in 2013 the Chelyabinsk Event saw a rock roughly the size of a 6 story building break up over Russia. It had the force of approximately 20 to 30 Hiroshima bombs, injuring 1,200 people and causing around £25 million in damages.

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