A lot of things go viral on the Internet these days, from cat photos to stupid videos to inspiring stories. Sadly, misinformation is just as easily, or even more easily, spread these days thanks to the wide reach of the Net. The most recent scare play on the fears and imagination surrounding a favorite doomsday scenario in recent years, at least before the zombies came. But NASA‘s Near-Earth Object Observations Program is reassuring that public that no giant asteroid is coming to destroy a good chunk of the earth any time soon.
The rumor has all the makings of a Hollywood flick, maybe a B movie. Sometime between September 18 and 25 this year, a large asteroid will crash on Earth. It will crash near Puerto Rico, which, some might want to point out, could be the cause of Project Ara pulling out. However, the impact will be so severe that it will destroy a good part of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the US and Mexico.
None of that is true, according Paul Chodas, manager of the Near-Earth Object Observations Program. Unless you’re a big NASA or space fan, you might not know about these people. This NASA Jet Propulsions Lab (JPL) group is composed of scientists and astronomers from different countries, all keeping watch over the skies for Potentially Hazardous Asteroids or PHAs, predicting their trajectory and sounding the alarm if necessary. They have definitely earned their “Spaceguard” moniker.
How far off are these rumors? Astronomical. According to the team, all PHAs have a small, less than 0.01 percent chance of colliding with the earth in the next 100 years. Some might argue that those are just based on probability and calculations, but, until we come across evidence of path altering forces that would send asteroids suddenly hurtling towards us, we’ll take these chances over some random viral rumor that originated from who knows where.