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Top 40 countries at greatest risk of asteroid impact revealed

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Researchers at University of Southampton have revealed a list of top 40 countries which are at the greatest risk of asteroid impact before 2100 using an advanced piece of software dubbed ARMOR.

In a paper University of Southampton researchers have argued though an asteroid isn’t the typical concern of people in day-to-day life, the threat is real and they can have disastrous consequences even if they just burst in the atmosphere. Having acknowledged asteroids as possible threats to our existence on planet Earth, NASA and ESA have started actively looking for asteroids and have come up with a list that have a non-zero chance of impacting the Earth in the next century.

Though there are million of asteroids in our solar system alone, only 13,000 have been discovered and out of them 500 have potential to strike the Earth. If just one of these were to strike Earth, it would have potential to wipe out an entire country.

PhD researcher Dr Clemens Rumpf at the University developed the Asteroid Risk Mitigation Optimization and Research (ARMOR) that can predict the impact locations of asteroids and their impact effects. Rumpf says that we can now calculate where the asteroids could impact and the damage that would be caused so that we could get evacuation plans in order.

The Earth in the Hammer projection showing the impact probability distributions for 261 VIs. The colour coding represents the impact probability at each location using a logarithmic scale.

The Earth in the Hammer projection showing the impact probability distributions for 261 VIs. The colour coding represents the impact probability at each location using a logarithmic scale.

According to the map generated through ARMOR, there is a wide asteroid risk zone running through Europe, passing directly over Scandinavia, Germany, France and Spain. Though the US is largely unaffected, chances are that asteroids could hit Florida or Louisiana or both. South Australia is also particularly at risk according to the map.

Researchers also combined asteroid impact probability distribution with the Earth population map to produce the global asteroid impact risk distribution and this shows that south-east Britain is one of the most at-risk areas of the world. Though Britain is not featured in the top 40, the country’s location and population makes it one of the most-at-risk areas.

Observed and predicted entry point for asteroid 2008TC3. The blue plus sign marks the point of the nominal entry solution while the green cross gives the solution of the observed entry point at the same altitude of 65.4 km.

Observed and predicted entry point for asteroid 2008TC3. The blue plus sign marks the point of the nominal entry solution while the green cross gives the solution of the observed entry point at the same altitude of 65.4 km.

One of the major threats apart from a direct hit on landmass is a ocean impact. If that happens one of the biggest problems is a tsunami and as Britain is an island with lots of coastline lots of people living there so it is a risk.

The asteroid risk map is a combination of impact probability and world population data. The colour in each region indicates the risk level for that population. Risk is normalized with respect to global risk and is colour coded using a logarithmic scale.

The asteroid risk map is a combination of impact probability and world population data. The colour in each region indicates the risk level for that population. Risk is normalized with respect to global risk and is colour coded using a logarithmic scale.

Further, the countries that show a risk that is disproportionally high relative to population are: Dominican Republic, Angola, Guatemala, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea and Honduras.

Out of the top 40 at risk, all but one – Taiwan – are developing nations that do not have the technological capabilities or the resources for an adequate response to the asteroid threat. Developed countries should lead and increase efforts to detect asteroids and develop deflection technologies because they have the resources to accomplish this task, the researchers add.