Last year, a meteor streaked across the skies in Russia, shattering thousands of windows and causing numerous injuries on its way to a final crash landing in a remote frozen lake. According to the B612 Foundation, these kind of violent visits from asteroids turned meteors (a meteor is the term for an asteroid or other space object after it enters Earth’s atmosphere and begins to burn up) happen much more often than previously thought and the only thing that’s kept a major city from being flattened by a visiting space rock is “blind luck.”
B612 says it has data from the International Monitoring System of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty Organization that detected 26 explosions since 2001 measuring over a kiloton of destructive power, all of which can be traced to asteroid impacts.
“It shows that asteroid impacts are NOT rare — but actually 3-10 times more common than we previously thought,” said Dr. Ed Lu, CEO of the B612 Foundation. ”The fact that none of these (impacts) was detected in advance is proof that the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a “city-killer” sized asteroid is blind luck.”
B612, along with Ball BLL -0.2% Aerospace and SpaceX, hopes to launch the first privately-funded space telescope in the coming years, called Sentinel, with a mission to find and track asteroids decades before they hit Earth, enough time to come up with deflection plans.
The foundation plans to hold a press conference later this month in Seattle to release a new video of the data showing the atomic-bomb-scale impacts from the last 14 years.
NASA is also planning some major asteroid-centered missions in the coming years, including plans to capture one for study.