Amidst growing fears of a catastrophe brought about by a massive asteroid impact event, scientists have released new information that indicates how common asteroid impacts actually are. Readings taken from instruments designed to detect nuclear detonations show that 26 asteroids have impacted the Earth over the last 14 years.
The latest statistics show that asteroid impact events are frequently misunderstood by the general public. An asteroid strike does not necessarily equate to the end of the world. However, scientists are still growing more concerned about the planet's preparedness for future impact events from larger near Earth objects. The B612 Foundation, which was formed to document, track and observe asteroids also weighed in on the matter.
"Between 2000 and 2013, a network of sensors that monitors Earth around the clock listening for the infrasound signature of nuclear detonations detected 26 explosions on Earth ranging in energy from 1 to 600 kilotons - all caused not by nuclear explosions, but rather by asteroid impact," says the B612 Foundation. "These findings were recently released from the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, which operates the network."
The nuclear explosion detection sensors that recorded the data on asteroid strikes are operated by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). While the organization's instruments were primarily designed for detecting explosions caused by nuclear armaments, the sensors also registered a total of 26 explosions with the power of a nuclear weapon. However, the CTBTO was able to determine that the blast was not caused by man-made weapons of mass destruction. Instead, asteroids were to blame.
Scientists are also having trouble dealing with the scarcity of data regarding impact events and the information provided by the CTBTO will be important to understanding the actual frequency and scale of such events. While the 26 recorded impact events did not cause too much damage to the planet, the frequency suggested by the data could imply that large and more destructive asteroid may hit the planet around once every century.
In an effort to increase awareness about the dangers of asteroid impacts, the B612 Foundation has introduced the Sentinel Project. One of the aims of the project is to develop an early warning system that can detect potentially dangerous asteroids from afar giving scientists enough time to prepare an appropriate strategy to neutralize the threat. The project will partially be bankrolled by civilian funds and the foundation has called on scientists from all over the world to help out with the mission's objectives.