UN: majority of big asteroids and comets flying 'close' to Earth still not identified

UN: majority of big asteroids and comets flying 'close' to Earth still not identified

Any near-Earth object (NEO) that crosses paths with the orbit of our planet and is larger than 140 metres in diameter is considered “potentially hazardous” by space agencies and thus should be carefully tracked.

Researchers across the world were able to identify only 40% of significantly large near-Earth objects while the rest of the bodies, despite being relatively close to our planet, still remain undetected, according to a report from the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations’ Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

Astronomical observatories across the world are working hard to detect, trace and catalogue NEOs – comets and asteroids whose orbits bring them into close proximity with Earth. If these objects are larger than 140 meters in diameter and their orbits intersect that of of our planet, the world’s space researchers regard them as potentially dangerous to earthlings.

According to the UN subcommittee’s report, in 2020 a network of space observatories located in over 40 countries made some 39.5 million observations of asteroids and comets. As the result, they were able identify a record 2,959 NEOs in the last year alone and catalogued some 2,180 asteroids, the orbits of which were within 8 million km of the orbit of our planet.

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