Near-Earth Object Milestone As Nasa Identifies 10,000th Space Rock

In 1898 we knew of one galactic object hurtling through space scarily close to Earth - now Nasa have identified 10,000.

The huge number of near-Earth objects (NEOs) - asteroids and comets within 28 million miles of earth - has rocketed with advances in space observation technology.

Until 1998, 500 NEOs had been identified. Then Nasa launched the Near-Earth Object (NEO) Program Office and they've been "racking them up" ever since.

Number 10,000 is asteroid 2013 MZ5 discovered on June 18th.

Around 10 per cent of the identified NEOs are larger than a kilometre across. If one of these hit us it could create what Nasa refer to as "global problems" (read "fiery death").

Lindley Johnson, program executive for the NEO programme said in a statement: "Finding 10,000 near-Earth objects is a significant milestone.

"But there are at least 10 times that many more to be found before we can be assured we will have found any and all that could impact and do significant harm to the citizens of Earth."

Most are far smaller than this and don't pose any threat to Earth but i's reassuring to know scientists are well on their way to cataloguing all of them.

Tim Spahr, director of the Minor Planet Center, said: "When I began surveying for asteroids and comets in 1992, a near-Earth object discovery was a rare event.

"These days we average three NEO discoveries a day, and each month the Minor Planet Center receives hundreds of thousands of observations on asteroids, including those in the main-belt.

"The work done by the NASA surveys, and the other international professional and amateur astronomers, to discover and track NEOs is really remarkable."

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