On Thursday, July 25, 2019, an asteroid called 2019 OK, traveling at almost 15 miles a second, came unusually close to impacting Earth. The asteroid passed by about 43,500 miles away — closer to Earth than our moon is.
65 million years ago, a large asteroid collided with Earth near present-day Chicxulub, Mexico. The impact was a climactic event that likely contributed to dinosaur extinction. Today, Earth remains vulnerable to asteroid collisions. In recent history, space rocks have landed in The United States, Russia, and elsewhere. In the event of a potential asteroid collision, NASA has developed several options for dealing with the threat. Researchers at NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies and Jet Propulsion Laboratory have proposed using blunt force, weaponized deflection or a theoretical tool called a gravity tractor to deflect impact. In addition to developing contingency plans, NASA scientists are also searching the sky for future asteroid threats.