An apocalyptic asteroid that could destroy all life on our planet is defying gravity and hurtling towards us at a speed 38,000mph.

How 1950 DA might look approaching Earth in 2880

How 1950 DA might look approaching Earth in 2880

Scientists have found that asteroid 1950 DA has a 300/1 chance of colliding with Earth on a predicted date of 16th March 2880. It if smashes into our planet, it would hit with a force of around 44,8000 megatonnes of TNT and cause mega-tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as well as the probable extinction of over 99% of the Earth’s life-forms.

The asteroid is spinning so fast that it should fly apart; however, the materials making up the asteroid mean that it exhibits van der Waals forces, meaning the constituent parts are attracted together, keeping the asteroid in one cohesive whole. These forces have never been seen in an asteroid before.

Just small changes to its surface should be enough to break up the asteroid and allow it to either miss Earth or burn up in our atmosphere. If it looks like it is still on a collision course with Earth in 800 years’ time, scientists are hopeful that mankind will have come up with a survival strategy.

A researcher at the University of Tennessee, Ben Rozitis, is researching the asteroid. He said: “We found that 1950 DA is rotating faster than the break-up limit for its density. So if just gravity were holding this rubble pile together it would fly apart.

A shot of 1950 DA taken by the University of Tennessee

A shot of 1950 DA taken by the NASA

“Following the February 2013 asteroid impact in Russia there is renewed interest in figuring out how to deal with the potential hazard of an asteroid impact. Understanding what holds these asteroids together can inform strategies to guard against future impacts.”