400m asteroid discovered with 1-in-63000 chance of hitting Earth in 2032!

On October 17, 2013 by Mike

Today, while looking at the Toronto Star, I came across the following headline.

Mark your calendars: Asteroid might collide with Earth in 2032, say astronomers

IGG_PHASTT_1Needless to say, I clicked on it and read that Ukranian astronomers have discovered a 400m asteroid that has a 1-in-63000 chance of impacting the Earth on August 26th, 2032. Now, odds are that, with more follow-up observations – precisely the type of work that PHASTT-1 is being designed to do – the odds will go down. But what if they don’t? What if the odds of impact actually increase? What would be the effect of an object like this when it impacted?

Well, according to the handy Imperial College of London / Purdue University impact calculator, an impact on land might look something like this…

  • about 3,000MT – not the 2.5MT mentioned in the article – of TNT-equivalent energy would be released (more than 21,000,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs)
  • a 6km wide, 500m deep complex crater would be created

As an observer 50km from the impact…

  • the fireball would appear to be 20 times the size of the sun
  • you would suffer 3rd degree burns over most of your body
  • the newspaper in your hand would ignite
  • deciduous trees and grass would ignite
  • you would be covered in a 5cm layer of ejecta whose fragments have a mean size of 25cm
  • the wind velocity would peak at nearly 400km/h
  • you would feel a magnitude 7 earthquake
  • buildings would collapse
  • 90% of the trees around you would be blown down and the rest would have no leaves or branches

No problem, you might say. The Earth is 70% water. Chances are that it would land in water. Well, let’s say that it landed in 500m deep water and you were 50km away. Then you’d have this to contend with…

  • a smaller crater (4km x 400m) and less ejecta
  • 3rd degree burns, flaming newspapers, trees, and grass
  • a tsunami wave between 40m and 80m

For me, either scenario is a sobering thought. Especially, when one considers that this is a 1-in-100,000 year event!

As mentioned earlier, this is what we’re designing the PHASTT network to do. Find, track, and characterize these potentially hazardous asteroids before they hit the Earth. If you’d like to help our project, you can donate through our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign at,

Thanks for reading!



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