An Asteroid Impact With the Earth in September Is Not Entirely Impossible 

It is extremely unlikely, but the probability is actually higher than zero.

Dinosaur asteroid impact

Keep September free … because a massive, football field-sized asteroid has a one in 7,300 chance of smashing into the Earth on the morning of September 9, 2019, according to the European Space Agency.

But it most likely won’t hit us.

Known as asteroid 2006 QV89, it has a diameter of 164 feet — that’s double the width of the meteor that exploded in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk in Russia in 2013. That meteor came from behind the shadow of the sun and wasn’t seen by astronomers until it was already entering our atmosphere.

Current modeling of the asteroid’s orbit shows it more likely passing by Earth at a distance of over 4.2 million miles this September, but ESA says there’s roughly a one hundredth of a 1 percent chance the model is wrong and it hits our planet instead.

Only last month, US scientists took part in an exercise simulating an imminent asteroid impact with the Earth, and NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine warned that we need to take the real-world threat seriously during his keynote speech at the International Academy of Astronautics Planetary Defense Conference in College Park, Maryland.

But it most likely won’t hit us.

New York gets hit by a meteor shower in the 1998 movie 'Armageddon'
New York gets hit by a meteor shower in the 1998 movie 'Armageddon'. 

Bridenstine also said that detecting, tracking, and studying asteroids and other near-Earth objects (NEOs) should be taken more seriously following the Chelyabinsk event. The resulting shock wave from that 65-foot-wide asteroid damaged thousands of buildings, and debris and flying glass injured over 1,500 people.

Last June, NASA produced a 20-page plan that details the steps the US should take to be better prepared for NEOs that come within 30 million miles of Earth.

Lindley Johnson, the space agency’s planetary defense officer, said that the country “already has significant scientific, technical, and operational capabilities” to help with NEOs, but implementing the new plan would “greatly increase our nation’s readiness and work with international partners to effectively respond should a new potential asteroid impact be detected.”

According to a 2018 report put together by Planetary.org, there are more than 18,000 NEOs.

Hollywood enjoyed a brief spell of asteroid impact-themed disaster movies during the summer of 1998. In the movie Deep Impact, a comet 1½ miles long slammed into the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Cape Hatteras, creating, at first, a tsunami 100 feet high traveling at 1,100 mph (that’s faster than the speed of sound). Then, when it reached shallow water, it slowed but increased in height to 3,500 feet. The wave washed away farmland and cities and eventually reached as far inland as the Ohio and Tennessee valleys (over 600 miles).

But it most likely won’t hit us.