'News' Of Asteroids Colliding With Earth Often Over-Hyped

Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - 7:35pm
Audio icon Download mp3 (1.45 MB)
(Image courtesy of NASA)
A rendering of asteroids in space.

Vice news reported Monday that a near-Earth asteroid passed the planet this weekend and was “the closest miss in recorded history,” according to the article.

However, the threat of an asteroid colliding with Earth is often over-hyped.
 
While the asteroid did pass the Earth closer than the orbit of the moon, there wasn't much to be nervous about. Eric Christensen, director of the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona, which tracked the asteroid said, “In this particular article and honestly in several articles in the popular press about this object 2018 GE 3, it’s fairly common for articles to sort of over-hype, not only the size, but the close-approach nature of this object.”

Christensen said when scientists detect a near-Earth object, they don’t exactly know how large it is—only how bright. “This is actually a fairly common event that we will detect a relatively small asteroid like this, either just before it makes a close approach or even just after.”

He said thousands of smaller objects pass near the Earth every year. 

If you like this story, Donate Now!

Like Arizona Science Desk on Facebook