A freshly discovered asteroid, with the classy name 2013 TV135, has a slight chance of smashing into Earth on August 26, 2032 and ruining everyone's day in a very big way.
"A 400-metre asteroid is threatening to blow up the Earth,” Russian vice-premier Dmitry Rogozin, who runs Russia's space industry, posted on his Twitter feed. “Here is a super target for the national cosmonautics.”
The space rock was spotted by astronomers at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in southern Ukraine last weekend and their findings have now been confirmed by star-gazers in Italy, Spain, the UK and Russia. The best guesstimate is that the asteroid has a one in 63,000 chance of smashing into Earth.
NASA has also assessed the data and has rated it as a level one threat on the Torino impact hazard scale, making 2013 TV135 one of only two bodies yet found that may threaten Earth. One is the lowest rating on the scale (a ten rating means we really are doomed) and the asteroid is expected to miss us by 1.7 million km. But we'll have to wait until 2028 to get final confirmation of its course and likely impact point.
If 2013 TV135 does hit Earth then it will explode with an estimated force of 2,500 megatons of TNT. By contrast, the Tsar Bomba, the most ridiculously large nuclear device ever exploded, was the equivalent of 50 megatons.
The other asteroid rated by NASA on the Torino scale as a level one threat is VK184, discovered in 2007. That has a 1 in 1820 chance of hitting us on June 3, 2048, but it's much smaller at 130 meters and would only blow with the equivalent of 40 megatons.
Meanwhile, your chance of winning the UK lottery is 1 in 13,983,816. Sleep tight. ®