Massive asteroid to hit Earth in 2032? (Well, maybe)

Ukrainian astronomers discover an asteroid, called 2013 TV135, with the power of 2,500 nuclear bombs. It's officially described as "potentially hazardous." You've been warned.

It's out there, somewhere. Matthew Reo/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I know from all the financial ads on TV that you like to plan your portfolio well in advance.

Might I therefore suggest that you keep a vast stack of money for the vacation of several lifetimes in the early summer of 2032?

You see, I don't want to alarm you excessively, but the world might end in August 2032.

Yes, the chances are small -- perhaps 1 in 63,000. But, as they say in lottery ads, you never know.

My mildly alarmist tone comes from hearing that scientists at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in the Ukraine have spotted a rather large asteroid.

As Russia's RIA Novosti observed it, this menacing object is more than 1,300 feet wide and packs within it the power of 2,500 megatons of TNT. It is, indeed, the sumo wrestler of asteroids. And it's headed our way.

It's already got a name: 2013 TV 135. This seems a little disappointing. Why can't we name asteroids like hurricanes? Why can't this be Asteroid Annie? Why not Asteroid Spumante? Or, at the very least, The Big One?

The existence of this particular asteroid has already been confirmed by star-gazing experts around the world, and it is officially described as "potentially hazardous."

But, most importantly, what does NASA think? I had feared that its Web site would take a little time to lurch into action after the government shutdown.

Just one look, though, confirmed that NASA is on top of this threat. In a post headlined "Asteroid 2013 TV135 - A Reality Check," NASA admitted that 2013 TV135 "could be back in Earth's neighborhood in 2032."

But, then, so could Sir Richard Branson.

NASA confirmed the analysis that there is a 1-in-63,000 chance that this thing might hit us and hit us hard. That seems, at least, more chance than a Miami Marlins World Series win or a Jacksonville Jaguars Super Bowl win.

However, Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., insists: "This is a relatively new discovery. With more observations, I fully expect we will be able to significantly reduce, or rule out entirely, any impact probability for the foreseeable future."

Scientists always say that in the movies, before some Scientologist actor has to save the world.

The asteroid's current orbit. NASA/JPL-Caltech
 

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