CTBTO Has Detected 26 Major Asteroid Impacts in Earth's Atmosphere Since 2000

Posted on April 22, 2014

The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) was designed to monitor the globe for the infrasound signature of nuclear detonations. The network also detects asteroid impacts. The network has detected 26 major asteroid impacts in the Earth's atmosphere since 2000 ranging from 1 to 600 kilotons. By comparison, the the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945, exploded with an energy impact of 15 kilotons. The 26 impacts detected by the CTBTO include the 2013 Chelyabinsk, Russia event. The B612 Foundation created the video below that visualizes these 26 impacts. Ed Lu, who heads the B612 Foundation, tells Reuters, "There is a popular misconception that asteroid impacts are extraordinarily rare ... that's incorrect."

B612 says our current strategy for dealing with asteroids is "blind luck." The organization wants to launch a new telescope, the Sentinel Mission, that would help better detect incoming asteroids ahead of time. B612 says Sentinel could discover and catalog 90% of the asteroids larger than 140 meters in Earth's region of the solar system.

Lu says in a release, "While most large asteroids with the potential to destroy an entire country or continent have been detected, less than 10,000 of the more than a million dangerous asteroids with the potential to destroy an entire major metropolitan area have been found by all existing space or terrestrially-operated observatories. Because we don't know where or when the next major impact will occur, the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a 'city-killer' sized asteroid has been blind luck." Take a look: