Feeling lucky? You should, because, according to the B612 Foundation, 26 asteroids that could be classified as "killer" asteroids have entered Earth's atmosphere in the 21st century alone.
The B612 Foundation released a video in honor or Earth Day 2014, Space.com reported (via Fox News) April 23, that shows the impacts -- or near-impacts -- and kilotonnage of the blasts from the invasive asteroids. The footage is dramatic in that it is a time-lapse walk through the succession of horrendous meteor strikes, the blasts ranging from 1 kiloton to 600 kilotons of released energy.
The Chelyabinsk meteor strike that occurred in 2013 comes near the end of the video. Its kilotonnage was estimated at 600, which is the equivalent of 40 of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II. The Chelyabinsk blast took place in the Russian sky as the asteroid disintegrated. The detonation sent out a shock wave that blew out windows of buildings and knocked people to the ground, ultimately injuring some 1,500 people.
The Chelyabinsk meteor was a "city-killer" that entered the Earth's atmosphere undetected. It had come from our planet's observational "blind spot" -- from the direction of the Sun.
Asteroids of the "city-killer" variety hit the Earth about once a century, scientists estimate.
Ed Lu, former astronaut and co-founder of B612 Foundation: "Because we don't know where or when the next major impact will occur, the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a 'city-killer' sized asteroid has been blind luck."
And he is correct. As the video clearly shows, the Earth does not suffer from a rarity of impacts. In fact, it gets hit all the time. Literally thousands of space rocks pelt the planet each year but only a few are large enough to be noticed, many tagged as "shooting stars" and flaming meteors. Rarer still are the ones that are large enough to take out a city or, worse, a region. The latter would fall into the range of asteroids large enough to precipitate an extinction event like the one that occurred some 65 million years ago and did away with the dinosaurs and roughly two-thirds of all living species on the planet at the time.
The B612 Foundation released the video in the hope of raising awareness as to the cosmic dangers our planet faces. The non-profit organization has plans to put into orbit near Venus an infra-red telescope, christened Sentinel, to help identify large and near-Earth asteroids that might pose a danger to Earth. What makes Sentinel different from other space-based observation vehicles is that it will be able to detect asteroids moving toward Earth the area of the Solar System blocked by the Sun from telescopic view.
Lu presented the video at a press conference Tuesday at Seattle's Museum of Flight along with two of his fellow former astronauts: Tom Jones, President of the Association of Space Explorers, and Bill Anders, an Apollo 8 spaceflyer (and also first chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission).