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Telescope in Russia spots asteroid 2014 UR 116 which poses threat to Earth

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A Moscow University telescope has uncovered a new Asteroid, named 2014 UR116, that could potentially threaten to collide with Earth. The automatic telescope is located the Caucasus Mountains near the Russian city of Kislovodsk and it picked up the asteroid this week.

Russia has been on high alert after the Chelyabinsk meteorite hit the Russian city in such spectacular style last year. Videos of the 20 metre wide meteorite quickly went viral and the damage from the collision was extensive with over 1,200 people needing medical treatment from falling debris and flying shattered glass due to the force of the space rock.

Asteroid 2014 UR116 is estimated to be roughly 350 metres wider than the Chelyabinsk meteorite with the potential to inflict damage up to 1000 times more powerful. The explosion from the impact of the Chelyabinsk meteorite was estimated at 500 kilotons of TNT so imagining the devastation that would occur from a 500,000 kiloton collision is spine tingling.

Currently, 2014 UR116’s trajectory is difficult to predict 100% accurately due to fluctuations as it passes close to the gravitational pulls of both Venus and Mars. Scientists at the Minor Planet Centre of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory are currently hard at work determining potential paths that the asteroid could follow in alternative scenarios.

As of now though, asteroid 2014 UR116 is approximately 4.5 million kilometres from Earth and has a lot of space to traverse before we will truly know if it poses a legitimate threat to us. At that distance it would take the space rock over 6 years to reach Earth and a lot can change to both its' path and size over that time frame.

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