The United Nations on Wednesday announced that June 30 will be observed globally each year as International Asteroid Day.
The UN said that the International Asteroid Day aims to raise awareness on the hazards of asteroid impact and the efforts being undertaken to help keep the Earth safe from threats of extraterrestrial objects slamming into our planet.
The date for the International Asteroid Day was not randomly chosen. It has, in fact, a significance because on the same day nearly 100 years ago, the massive Tunguska asteroid caused an explosion that flattened 2,000 square kilometers of a Siberian forest.
"The date of International Asteroid Day commemorates the anniversary of the Tunguska asteroid impact over Siberia, Russian Federation, on 30 June 1908," the United Nations said. "The first official observance of International Asteroid Day will take place in 2017."
Potentially Cataclysmic Dangers Of An Asteroid Impact
The Tunguska event is estimated to have produced about 185 times more energy compared with the Hiroshima atomic bomb. It was so powerful that seismic rumbles were observed as far away as the UK. Although mystery still surrounds what exactly took place that day, many believe that the blast was caused by an asteroid or a comet.
The extinction of the dinosaurs in prehistoric times is also popularly attributed to an asteroid that crashed on Earth, highlighting the dangers posed by extraterrestrial rocks when these get into our planet.
Odds Of Hazardous Asteroids Hitting Earth
NASA said that the risk of a potentially hazardous asteroid hitting the planet over the next century is less than 0.01 percent regardless that there are several extraterrestrial rocks flying by our planet.
Scientists are fortunately not taking chances and have been making preparations in case a hazardous asteroid would slam into Earth.
In October, NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency conducted a joint exercise, which involved a simulation of an asteroid impact, in a bid to come up with strategies that can protect people if such a calamity happens.
NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission will also collect asteroid samples and bring these back to Earth for analysis. The mission is set to gather soil from the asteroid Bennu, a near-Earth object or NEO, that may potentially hit Earth more than 100 years from now.
"Asteroid impacts are the only natural disaster we know how to prevent if we, as the crew of Spaceship Earth work together towards a global solution," the Asteroid Day founders said in a statement.