Just as the potential conflict between the U.S. and Syria continues to abate, a messenger comes to remind mankind that civilization hangs on the narrowest of threads. We may avoid a war among all nations, created by man, only to be struck by an unforeseen asteroid or comet, potentially destroying nations and continents. Though this asteroid would not be caused by man, the failure to see it coming and defend ourselves would be the result of the failure of civilization to utilize our capacity for reason, and science.
Vladimir Lipunov of the Moscow State University and the Sternberg Astronomical Institute reported today that a tracking station near Lake Baikal in Siberia had detected a 15-meter asteroid—about 50 feet—on the evening of Sept. 27, and tracked it for several hours. It was moving at a speed of 16km per second.
Nine hours after it was detected, the asteroid narrowly missed the Earth, flying
"within 11,300 km of the Earth's surface, below the orbit of geostationary satellites," Lipunov said. Although his team of scientists at first thought the object might have been space debris, they found no match in the space junk catalog to suggest that.
The asteroid was similar to the one that exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk in the Urals in February of this year.
For more on the threats we face as a planet, from asteroid and related threats, see our Strategic Defense of Earth Page.