MessageToEagle.com - There are plenty of asteroids that periodically approach the Earth; up to 1,000 are discovered yearly.
More than 10,000 asteroids and comets that can pass near Earth have now been discovered.
About 1,000 asteroids are discovered yearly per year.
The 10,000th near-Earth object, asteroid 2013 MZ5, was first detected on the night of June 18, 2013, by the Pan-STARRS-1 t
elescope, located on the summit of the Haleakala crater on Maui.
Asteroid 2013 MZ5 is approximately 1,000 feet (300 meters) across. Its orbit is well understood and will not
approach close enough to Earth to be considered potentially hazardous.
"Finding 10,000 near-Earth objects is a significant milestone," said Lindley Johnson, program executive for
NASA's Near-Earth Object Observations (NEOO) Program at NASA Headquarters.
"But there are at least 10 times that many more to be found before we can be assured we will have found any and
all that could impact and do significant harm to the citizens of Earth."
Near-Earth objects (NEOs) are asteroids and comets that can approach the Earth's orbital distance to within about
28 million miles (45 million kilometers).
They range in size from as small as a few feet to as large as 25 miles (41 kilometers) for the largest near-Earth
asteroid, 1036 Ganymed.
"The first near-Earth object was discovered in 1898," said Don Yeomans, long-time manager of NASA's Near-Earth
Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
"Over the next hundred years, only about 500 had been found. But then, with the advent of NASA's NEO
Observations program in 1998, we've been racking them up ever since. And with new, more capable systems coming
on line, we are learning even more about where the NEOs are currently in our solar system, and where they will
be in the future."
Of the 10,000 discoveries, roughly 10 percent are larger than six-tenths of a mile (one kilometer) in size -
roughly the size that could produce global consequences should one impact the Earth.
The vast majority of NEOs are smaller than one kilometer, with the number of objects of a particular size
increasing as their sizes decrease.
Asteroid 2013 MZ5 as seen by the University of Hawaii's PanSTARR-1 telescope. In this animated gif,
the asteroid moves relative to a fixed background of stars. Image credit: PS-1/UH
For example, there are expected to be about 15,000 NEOs that are about one-and-half football fields in size
(460 feet, or 140 meters), and more than a million that are about one-third a football field in size (100 feet,
or 30 meters). A NEO hitting Earth would need to be about 100 feet (30 meters) or larger to cause significant
devastation in populated areas. Almost 30 percent of the 460-foot-sized NEOs have been found, but less than 1
percent of the 100-foot-sized NEOs have been detected.
"When I began surveying for asteroids and comets in 1992, a near-Earth object discovery was a rare event," said
Tim Spahr, director of the Minor Planet Center.
"These days we average three NEO discoveries a day, and each month the Minor Planet Center receives hundreds of
thousands of observations on asteroids, including those in the main-belt. The work done by the NASA surveys, and
the other international professional and amateur astronomers, to discover and track NEOs is really remarkable."