MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Many people believe December 21, 2012 will be the end of the world. But scientists are instead looking to the year 2040 as a potential “Armageddon.”
The reason is that an asteroid, AG5, may come close enough to earth in 2040 that some researchers are calling for a discussion about how to deflect it, according to space.com.
No word on whether Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck have been contacted by researchers yet.
In all seriousness, the asteroid has been labeled a “real threat,” but it’s only been observed for roughly half an orbit. Scientists said until they can see the asteroid make at least one or two full orbits, confidence in the calculations are not high, space.com reported.
Currently, AG5, which is about 460 feet wide, has an impact probability of 1 in 625 for February 5, 2040. Scientists though are looking to see how the asteroid passes the earth in 2023 when it goes through a keyhole.
For reference sake, the asteroid that may have killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was approximately 6.2 miles wide.
According to space.com, keyholes are small regions in space close to earth through which a passing object, such as an asteroid, may have its orbit shifted because of gravity into a path that could impact the earth.
When AG5 passes through the 2023 keyhole, it will be roughly 0.02 astronomical units away from earth, or roughly 1.86 million miles. But the keyhole that AG5 must pass through for it to have a legitimate shot at hitting earth in 2040 is just 62 miles wide, according to space.com.
NASA said it was taking the duties of monitoring the asteroid “seriously” and said more observations need to be made before any decision is to be made about trying to deflect the asteroid with anything including a nuclear device.