Why it’s so hard to detect dangerous asteroids before they hit Earth

Earth is often in the firing line of fragments of asteroids and comets, most of which burn up tens of kilometers above our heads. But occasionally, something larger gets through. That’s what happened off Russia’s east coast on December 18 last year. A giant explosion occurred above the Bering Sea when an asteroid some ten meters across detonated with an explosive energy ten times greater than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. So why didn’t we see this asteroid coming? And why are we only...

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