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According to figures compiled by the US space agency, the rates of impact by space rocks is increasing – meaning there is an increased chance of a devastating strike.
This a sharp upturn from the number of asteroids hitting the planet when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
Experts believe at least three times as many rocks hit Earth today, although most are incredibly small.
“It is a bit like a rising tide; you have a lot of material coming out of the asteroid belt at one point.”
However, Dr Gernon said it is unlikely mankind is going to wiped out by a devastating strike any time soon.
“There is no need for people to worry about this increased flux,” he added.
“We are saying large asteroid impacts – more than 1 km across – went from one every 3-5 million years prior to 90 million years ago, to roughly 1-2 every million years.”
Planet Earth is effectively defenceless in the face of a “dinosaur-killer” asteroid strike, a Nasa scientist has warned. And the planet is overdue for an extinction-level event involving a giant space object – such as an asteroid or comet – following a number of close encounters over the last 20 years, Dr Joseph Nuth said.
Large objects from outer space that could cause mass extinctions have tended to hit Earth about 50 to 60 million years apart. The dinosaurs were wiped out 66 million years ago by an asteroid that struck what is now the Gulf of Mexico.