Will the asteroid known as 1999 RQ36 destroy all life on the planet, thereby preventing you from dinging 80?

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Not to alarm you, but we only have 172 years to live, so better ding 80 (soon 85) while you still can. Scientists have spotted an asteroid that, if all goes well (er, bad), will smash right into Planet Earth in the year 2182.

There’s a 1-in-1000 chance that the asteroid, called 1999 RQ36, will strike the planet. (The next most likely asteroid has a 1-in-250,000 chance to hit the planet.) They’ve even pinpointed a specific date that this will all go down: September 24, 2181.

Barring some sort of scientific breakthrough I’m pretty sure we’ll all be long gone by then, so there’s not an awful lot to worry about.

Future People, now they could have something to worry about.

1999 RQ36 is big. Like, really big. The best measurements put it at more than 1,800 feet across. That’s approximately the length of five NFL football fields. Something that size hitting the Earth at any sort of speed—and it would smash into the Earth at a remarkable rate of speed—would certainly cause destruction on a wide scale.

Maybe even mass extinction.

Basically, what happened to the dinosaurs would happen to us—maybe another species will rise up from the ashes to take our place? That would be exciting!

Dr. Michio Kaku often talks about these type of Hollywood scenarios. Provided we have enough time, the best course of action would be merely to nudge the asteroid off its trajectory. Accomplish that however you want to accomplish it, perhaps by landing a small device on the surface that has tiny booster rockets on there.

What you don’t want to do is blow it up since that will only put several destructive objects on a collision course with the planet.

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