Earth is at serious risk of being hit by a “city-killer” asteroid in 2022, according to a study published Tuesday by the Czech Academy of Sciences.
The study warned that asteroids big enough to cause “continental” damage could be lurking within the Taurid meteor shower, which usually intersects with Earth around November.
Czech scientists analyzed 144 large meteors that exploded in Earth’s atmosphere during the Taurid shower. The study found large asteroids hiding in the Taurid shower — at least two of which were between 660 to 1000 feet in diameter.
“Most probably, the branch also includes many undetected asteroids which are dozens of metres in diameter or larger,” reads the Czech Academy of Sciences’s press release. “Hence, the danger of a crash with an asteroid grows markedly once every few years that the Earth encounters this stream of inter-planetary material.”
A new branch of Taurid meteors show up every few years around November and lasts for for about three weeks. The next shower is scheduled to pass by Earth again in 2022.
“During this period, the probability of a collision with a larger object is markedly higher,” reads the Academy’s release.
Taurid asteroids would be difficult to detect due to their relatively small size.
NASA and its European partners focus on finding objects of at least 459 feet in diameter, meaning they occasionally miss very small asteroids capable of doing a lot of damage.
One small asteroid barely missed Earth in February, just hours after scientists first spotted it. The asteroid got within 32,200 miles of the Earth, or about 7.6 times closer than the moon.
Such an asteroid could potentially have struck Earth with a force 55 times stronger than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima near the end of World War II.
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