AN asteroid hurtling towards the Earth could wipe out all human life within 30 years, The People can reveal.
The 1.5 mile-wide lump of space rock is travelling at 21,000 mph – six miles a second.
And it is set to cross Earth’s orbit at 10pm on May 19, 2031. Science minister David Sainsbury stunned the House of Lords with news of the devastating discovery by astronomers.
Asteroid expert Kevin Yates warned: “If it hit us it would vaporise at least a continent. The climate change would cause a nuclear winter which would potentially mean the extinction of the human race.”
Lord Sainsbury set out to allay fears, saying there is no danger of another recently-discovered asteroid hitting Earth in 2014. But he confirmed that a SECOND and more threatening rock is on the way. Scientists calculated its 2031 arrival date in the past 48 hours.
Lib Dem space spokesman Lembit Opik said:”If it landed on Moscow it would incinerate everything from Bognor to the Bosphorous.
“And if it came down in the sea it would set up a tidal wave 17 miles high.”
Mr Yates, of the asteroid monitoring system at Britain’s National Space Centre, believes the risk of impact is slight. But even if it misses us it will only do so by ten hours, a blink in cosmic terms.
The new asteroid, dubbed 2003/Q0104, was first spotted on August 31 by the Minor Planets Centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is being tracked by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Lord Tanlaw, chairman of the Parliamentary Astronomy and Space Environment Group, said: “It is one of nature’s missiles of mass destruction.”
Lord Sainsbury promised a scientific probe and admitted: “There is clearly a risk.”