Earth has dodged another asteroid. This time it was HL 129 , which came as close as 186,000 miles. Not exactly missing us by a block, but extremely close in astronomical terms. The bus-sized asteroid was first spotted on April 29, and did its fly-by on May 3. Clocking in at 25 feet wide, the asteroid did not pose a threat to Earth, but has once again thrust near-Earth objects into the limelight.
NASA believes it has only identified one percent of all asteroids floating near Earth. After the 65-foot-wide asteroid exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, NASA opened an ‘Asteroid Grand Challenge. They are crowdsourcing ideas on how better to identify and track near-Earth objects.
With a prize of $35,000, NASA recently wrapped up round three of the competition with 422 submissions from 63 countries. They are looking for the best asteroid detection algorithm. We need to be able to see it before we deploy Bruce Willis to make that depth.
Speaking to the San Jose Mercury News, Been Burress of Oakland’s Chabot Space and Science Center talked about good ideas. “Good ideas can come from anywhere. There are millions of asteroids we don’t know about, so the idea of more information really is better. Are we going to be hit? Yes. The question is, when and by how big of an asteroid?”
NASA says the issue is a global one, and will take a global effort to solve. Judging by the damage wrought in Chelyabinsk, it is something the world’s governments will have to team up to solve. The damage was from a 65-foot asteroid. What if the next one we miss is triple that size or larger?