It is a scene we all dread – an enormous space rock colliding with Earth, causing widespread chaos and destruction.
And experts have warned that the dreaded scenario could become a reality this year.
A leading astronomer from NASA has tweeted a list of five known asteroids expected to fly scarily close to Earth within the coming year.
Ron Baalke, a space explorer at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California tweeted the worrying predictions.
He said: ‘A list of known asteroid close approaches to Earth – less than five Lunar Distance – within the coming year’, along with a table detailing the five asteroids.
According to Mr Baalke, the first close encounter will come on July 23, when Object 2017 BS5, which is predicted to have a diameter of 40-90 metres will come within 3.15 lunar distances (752,937 miles) with Earth.
The most worryingly close encounter is predicted to come on October 12, when Object 2012 TC4 will come within just 0.15 lunar distances (35,828 miles) with Earth, although thankfully the asteroid will only be 12-27 metres in diameter.
A further three close encounters will occur on December 3rd, February 24th, and April 2nd.
And while Mr Baalke has highlighted those five, there could be several other asteroids making close encounters with Earth.
In January, an asteroid as big as a bus came closer to Earth than the moon.
The object, dubbed 2017 FJ101, zoomed passed within 202,000 miles (325,087 km) of our planet.
For years scientists have been trying to work out how to deal with the threat of an asteroid, which could hit us with little or no warning.
The White House released an official document called the ‘National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy’, describing the plan if a meteor or asteroid was to head our way, and it shows we are under-prepared.
The document ‘seeks to improve our nation’s preparedness to address the hazard of near-Earth object (NEO) impacts by enhancing the integration of existing national and international assets and adding important capabilities that are currently lacking.’
NEOs are asteroids or comets that have an orbit that brings them near or into Earth’s orbit.
SOURCE: SHIVALI BEST