Asteroid shock: Earth at risk of deadly strike after 900 asteroids ‘LOST’ by scientists

MORE than 900 potentially Earth shattering asteroids have gone missing in the solar system, leading Astronomers have confirmed.

The US based International Astronomical Union (IAU) has revealed it has lost track of more than 900 near-Earth asteroids following its last official count. Between 2013-2016, the IAU’s Minor Planet Center (MPC) conducted an extensive search of objects orbiting Space. The MPC found a total of 17,030 potential near-Earth asteroids.

The MPC is funded by leading space agency NASA and is responsible for the identification, designation and orbit computation for all measurements of minor planets, comets and outer irregular natural satellites.

Researchers labelled 11 percent of the total, almost 1,900, as “initially unconfirmed” meaning their exact location was not pinned down.

Almost half of these near-Earth asteroids remain unaccounted for and could collide with the planet at any moment.

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More than 900 near-Earth asteroids have gone missing (Image: GETTY)

Dr Peter Vereš who led the MPC study, told the New Scientist: “We need to act fast.

“Tomorrow, that object could be on the other side of the sky, and nobody really knows where it will be.”

Near-Earth asteroids can reach up to 3,200 metres wide and can stay in orbit for between 10 million and 100 million years.

The asteroids are composed of mostly water and dust particles before becoming frozen solid when orbiting cold planets such as Uranus.

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The MPC found a total of 17,030 potential near-Earth asteroids (Image: GETTY)

The deadly asteroids can travel at speeds in excess of 45,000mph and form into a solid rock like structure, when the travelling through the warmer inner solar system between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

The new warning about the threat asteroids comes as teams from Nasa in the US and the European Space Agency (ESA) outlined plans to protect the planet.

Engineers are working on developing a spacecraft to crash into objects destined for Earth.

Nasa has already started building the Double Asteroid Impact Test, or Dart spacecraft, which is scheduled to launch during the summer of 2021.

READ MORE: Asteroid shock: NASA warns of ‘100 percent’ chance of asteroid impact

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Near-Earth asteroids can stay in orbit for between 10 million and 100 million years (Image: GETTY)

It is expected to travel at 6.6 km/s and reach its location by September 2022

Two years later the European Space Agency plans to carry out mission ‘Hera’ in order to measure the size and properties of the asteroid particles.

Ian Carnelli, responsible for managing Hera at the European Space Agency, said: “Dart can perform its mission without Hera - the effect of its impact on the asteroid’s orbit will be measurable using Earth ground-based observatories alone.

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The most valuable asteroids in the solar system (Image: GETTY)

“But flying the two missions together will greatly magnify their overall knowledge return.

“Hera will in fact gather essential data to turn this one-off experiment into an asteroid deflection technique applicable to other asteroids.

“Hera will also be the first mission to rendezvous with a binary asteroid system, a mysterious class of object believed to make up around 15 percent of all known asteroids.”