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MOSCOW, February 18 (Itar-Tass) – Up to 1,000 potentially dangerous for Earthmen astronomical bodies are discovered yearly, Lidiya Rykhlova from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Astronomy told reporters on Monday.
“There are a lot of asteroids that periodically approach the Earth, up to 1,000 are discovered yearly nowadays,” the deputy head of the institute’s department for space astrometry said. “As of the present day, 9,400 such astronomical bodies have been discovered,” she said.
These are mainly objects with a diameter of 140 meters to one kilometer. It is these asteroids that are currently the aim of search within the framework of the program for detecting dangerous objects in space. The previous program – discovering asteroids measuring over one kilometer in diameter -is practically completed, Rykhlova said. According to her, over 90 percent of such asteroids are known and their orbits have been calculated.
Specialists were impressed at learning how many such objects were floating around the Earth, she stressed. “Twenty years ago we could not even imagine how much natural junk is hanging around our planet,” the scientist said. But as methods and means of observation are updated, astronomers find more and more such “space stones”.
The size of the meteorite that has caused major destruction in Chelyabinsk and around it on February 15 did not exceed “a meager” 17 meters, scientists say.