It will be hitting the Earth today or early tomorrow. Luckily for us it’s not expected to cause any harm.
But we’ve had some pretty close scrapes with doomsday over the centuries. Here we bring you six times the world almost ended.
1) The 2012 solar storm
2012 was the year many believed the Mayans predicted the world may end and prepared for the worst.
Actually, they didn’t intend for that to be their message – it was a misinterpretation of their scripts – but anyway, it didn’t happen. Though we did become really close to being hit by an enormous solar storm.
This gif shows the moment when a burst of energy tore through the Earth’s atmosphere on 23 July 2012.
Luckily for us, a space craft took the hit. But if it hadn’t, it could have crippled electrical systems across the planet, wiping out powergrids, radios, and, ‘everything that plugs into a wall socket’.
We wouldn’t even have had any water in our cities as systems that provide it to urban areas are powered by electricity.
‘If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire,’ Daniel Barker of the University of Colorado told Nasa at the time.
2) When the Soviets almost launched a nuclear Armageddon in 1983
The Cuban Missile Crisis where the U.S and the Soviet Union almost came to blows over Cuba in 1962 is well documented.
But little did we know until recently that we were ‘on a hair trigger’ of being in the midst of a nuclear war.
A recently declassified American report revealed how the Soviets mistakenly thought a NATO nuclear training exercise was a cover for a real strike and started moving missiles to launch sites in Europe.
If it had gone ahead and a conflict had begun, hundreds of millions of people in the U.S would have died and a lot of Europe would have been made uninhabitable.
3) When an Icelandic volcano caused the death of six million people
The Laki eruption of 1783-84 wasn’t just a huge explosion. The volcano spewed out lava for a full eight months afterwards with a catastrophic global effect.
The sulphuric acid expelled into the air made temperatures drop 1.3 degrees below normal for two to three years. It damaged crops across Europe and droughts in India, leading to deep famine and the eventual death count of an estimated six million.
4) The Black Plague: 50 million people dead
This is the threat that most people know something about: the 14th century disease that wiped out 60 per cent of Europe’s population.
It was a quick, ugly, brutal disease spread by rats, killing the majority of the population of cities including Florence and Siena.
It’s still hanging around in some corners of the world, causing the deaths of 126 people in 2013 according to the World Health Organisation.
5) The bacteria that almost destroyed all our crops
It was the 1990s and technology was growing fast. Genetically modified foods were becoming more of a thing.
One of the organisms being tested was the Klesiella Planticola, essentially a soil bacteria that was intended to decompose plant litter.
It had been tested and deemed safe for wheat and plans to mass-produce it were being made.
The problem? Well, awkwardly, it wasn’t safe for wheat all all. Not only that but its byproduct feeds on roots of every plant. The devastation on our crops and ecosystems would have been unimaginable.
Our fate was saved when Oregon State University ran its own independent tests. Phew.
6) Hundreds of deadly comets almost hit the Earth
Never mind one comet hitting the Earth – imagine hundred of comets hurling towards the Earth, each 1,000 times more powerful than an atomic bomb.
The sight of 450 mysterious objects passing in front the sun was spotted by Mexican astronomer Jose Bonilla through his telescope.
Modern astronomer Hector Manterola then confirmed that it was a comet that had recently broken up and came as close as 600 to 8,000km away from Earth.
Basically the distance between the UK and Brazil. That’s not far in space measurements.