Read a scientific article about asteroids to practise and improve your reading skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and do the exercises.

Reading text


In 2010, the planetary defence team at NASA had identified and logged 90 per cent of the asteroids near Earth measuring 1km wide. These 'near-Earth objects', or NEOs, are the size of mountains and include anything within 50 million kilometres of Earth's orbit. With an estimated 50 left to log, NASA says none of the 887 it knows about are a significant danger to the planet.


Now NASA is working towards logging some of the smaller asteroids, those measuring 140 metres wide or more. Of the 25,000 estimated asteroids of this size, so far about 8,000 have been logged, leaving 17,000 unaccounted for. Considering that a 19-metre asteroid that exploded above the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia in 2013 injured 1,200 people, these middle-sized asteroids would be a serious danger if they enter Earth's orbit.


Whether NASA can find the remaining middle-sized NEOs depends on getting the money to build NEOCam, a 0.5-metre space telescope which would use infrared light to locate asteroids. If it did get the money, it could probably achieve its goal in ten years. Once logged, the planetary defence team would still need to work out how to defend the planet against being hit by the truly worrying asteroids – the PHAs.


'Potentially Hazardous Asteroids' are rocks close enough to pass within 7.5 million kilometres of Earth's orbit. NASA has created a map of 1,400 PHAs, none of which are expected to be a threat in the next one hundred years. With technology already available, NASA can track these objects and make predictions about possible impact, at which point two defence solutions could be launched.


The first is DART – the Double Asteroid Redirection Test. Plans are scheduled to test DART on the moon of an asteroid called Didymos. 'Didymoon' is 150 metres wide, orbiting its 800-metre mother, and hopefully the impact of DART will knock it out of its orbit enough for Earth-based telescopes to pick up.


Another suggested defence against a PHA on course to hit Earth is to blow it up using a nuclear weapon. It may sound like a plot from a film, and it was the subject of the 1998 film Armageddon, but the Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response (HAMMER) is a genuine NASA proposal. The eight-ton rockets would be fired at an approaching asteroid with the hope of bumping it off course. If the asteroid was too close to Earth for this plan to work, the rockets would carry nuclear bombs to blow it up instead.

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Worksheet86.77 KB

Language level

B2 English level (upper intermediate)

Submitted by orhannt on Fri, 29/04/2022 - 15:02


Hello, In Task 1 question 3; why the answer is 'D' ? The text says 'none of which are expected to be a threat in the next one hundred years.' so there's nothing about asteroids that are the biggest danger to Earth in paragraph D, is there ? Thank you.

Hello orhannt,

Although none of the asteroids in paragraph D are expected to be a threat in the next 100 years, they are potential dangers as they pass relatively close to our orbit. The rest of the asteroids do not come close to our orbit and so are not even potential threats. Thus, the biggest threats are those in paragraph D.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by orhannt on Fri, 29/04/2022 - 14:58


Hello. For the first question in the task 2, I don't understand why the answer is 'true'. The text says ' With an estimated 50 left to log, NASA says none of the 887 it knows about are a significant danger to the planet.' about asteroids that measure 1km wide.So, we don't know anything about 50 asteroids that measures 1 km wide. So, earth 'might' be in danger.

Hi orhannt,

The question does not ask if we are absolutely sure we are safe but rather if 'we appear to be' in significant danger. Given that 887 have been checked and found to be safe and that only 50 remain (presumably the ones which were less of a priority), I think it is correct to say that we do not appear to be in significant danger, even if a small chance remains.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gijs on Tue, 04/01/2022 - 15:11


Depends on the possible results of the impact given by the NASA.... If it is life- threatening for me I definately would say my farewells to my loved ones and find out if there is a possibility to stay alive. Other then that.... I can't say and I can only hope not to experience something like that.

Submitted by vishnu_saddikuti on Mon, 08/11/2021 - 03:59


In task 2,q1 if only "Earth does not appear to be in any danger from any asteroids" was given, will the answer be not given?

Submitted by Abrarhussain on Sun, 07/11/2021 - 22:34


If I heard that an asteroid was near the Earth , I would search health and safety rules from the Internet to protect my self.

Submitted by khaoula ghar on Wed, 03/11/2021 - 00:10


I'll feel so scary about my family and my friends and everything i love; i'll feel so blue for leaving the world without realizing my dreams, the idea of leaving this world is such frightening.
But I think ruther than stay worry about the future i'll live the moment with my riends and family. Also i'll never forget to pray to god to protect us frpm this hazardous asteroid.

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Wed, 20/10/2021 - 15:57


I spent time with my friends and family. I remember my days. I will see old photos of me. I will tell my crush first and last time I love you. That's so painful.

Submitted by Stela Stoycheva on Mon, 16/08/2021 - 15:25

Oh, I hope that`s just in fantastic movies... I watched broadcast for the asteroid of Chelyabinsk in Russia /dangerous, scary.../ Maybe I will watching the radio, news and I will listen how we need to protect us, my family I will follow goverment rules. If my home is in danger, I will left and I will call my family, friends... Pff, I will be in panic bassicaly, but I think I will try to be calm. I hope God will bless us!

Submitted by Andrea Valencia on Sun, 09/05/2021 - 18:57

what can I do?

Submitted by handsomeyes on Mon, 18/01/2021 - 20:03

I will try my best no to panic. Of course, it depends on the size of an asteroid. If it is dangerous one I will try to find a safe place and obey government instructions.

Submitted by Min Htet Kaung on Mon, 11/01/2021 - 07:23

It depends on the size of asteroid and how much extent it can cause damage to earth. If it is large and cause serious damage to our world, I will listen to broadcasting media and obey the instructions of the government or scientists. I will collect radio and other materials used in emergency situation.

Submitted by Ehsan on Tue, 29/12/2020 - 20:14

The universe has a creator and that is God. God is the best manager and has been established order in the universe. If I heard that an asteroid was near the earth, I just look at that and I leave everything to astronomers.
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Submitted by danisep on Fri, 20/11/2020 - 03:31

If the impact its eminent and mostly everybody going to die I could use that time to take some risks and do things that maybe I haven’t done for afraid also I would spend time with my family. That depends of the recommendations of scientific about what we must to do in that situation, maybe build a bunker and wear special suits, looking for essential stuffs like water, food and batteries, and after that if something remaining it’s just about help us each other to build a new world.

Submitted by Camilo on Fri, 09/10/2020 - 04:12

Assuming that the asteroid is big and close enough to bring about a devastating impact that can affect the whole planet but it still takes some time to finally hit it, my choice depends on the situation, as an earlier comment said (by Lollipop). If I were far away from my parents and relatives, I would find a way to get where they are and share my remaining lifetime with them. I would also remember all the moments we lived together. Another goofy thing I'd do is to tell my crush that I've been in love with her since I knew her by WhatsApp. Despite it's the worst moment of my life, it's somehow one of the best ones since we don't care anymore about meaningless things but staying with the people who accompanied us almost all of our lives.

It's already two years later, and I just wanted to ask you... What about your crush now ? Hope everything is cool and no asteroids will destroy your relationship :).

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Submitted by Hennadii on Tue, 06/10/2020 - 17:24

At first, I will rewatch all movies about asteroids falling on Earth. Just kidding - they all are useless. Seriously, I don't know what to do. I think it's like a pandemic of COVID-19, we weren't ready for that and didn't know how to act at first. The last pandemic was 100 years ago so all of us have to get our own experience how to survive. The hazardous asteroid is the same. What experience we have? Not a one. Do we have any instructions? Not a one again. So, what are we going to do? Install the app "Asteroids avoidance" from the market )) Just kidding again. I definitely will follow all upcoming instructions from the government (maybe not my country government but someone more clever). If I will need to relocate to a much safer place - I will relocate with all my family, for sure. If our country will need to host people from other countries - we will host as well. Well, I hope the asteroid's explosions we may see only in movies but if that danger becomes real, we will be ready to face and to cope.

Submitted by Lollipop on Sat, 05/09/2020 - 08:07

At first i would be both surprised and amazed. So significant and exciting thing is happening. Then common sense will reassert itself and panic will come out because can scientists do anything? And will they do it? I will be worried about how large the damage will be, who will be the sacrifices of this accident, will I and my family survive? I will turn on radio, tv and other broadcasting media to get the answers. I hope, they will work. And there are two different situations of my next actions: there is enough time before asteroid, for example 2 weeks, and a little time such as 5 minutes. In the first case I will look for my parents, and will try to make a bunker or maybe government will provide ways to survive, then we will use them. My only aim will be to stay alive myself and keep my family alive, they mean a lot for me. In the second case my actions depend on where i will be then. If it's the hit zone and i don't have time to escape, i will cry, and remember all best moments in my life, and maybe will try to hug somebody, if there will be people of course. If the hit zone is far away, I will find my family, and wait until the situation will become better. Or maybe my help will be useful, then I will do everything that I can to help people who would suffered. In conclusion i want to say that humanity is partly ready for such emergency situation. Science in not developed enough to predict and prevent all risks. But i hope, everything will be done to get minimum damage and I will try to contribute to it.

Submitted by Rorro01 on Thu, 03/09/2020 - 23:25

If an asteroid is near Earth and the collision is inminent, the first thing I would do is to get as much information as I could. A news of such dimension definitely wouldn't go unnoticed and it probably would be broadcasted all over the world.The .priority would be to know where it's going to crash and how big the damage it would be. After that I would look for shelter for me and my family, buy provisions of all kind ( mostly the ones that last very long ) wait until the asteroid reach and crash to the Earth and hope for the best.

Submitted by mxoubi0 on Wed, 26/08/2020 - 10:47

Hi Teacher, I think the writer should use will instead of using would since this is a first conditional statement. Please correct me if I am wrong. "these middle-sized asteroids would be a serious danger if they enter Earth's orbit"

Hello mxoubi0,

You could certainly say 'will' here, and if you saw a sentence like this on a grammar test, that would be the best choice since, as you point out, it follows the rules that are taught about the first conditional.

These rules about conditionals explain how grammar is used most of the time, but they are rules designed by teachers to help students. In reality, you can find sentences like this one, which is perfectly correct. Here, I imagine that the writer chose to say 'enter' since the previous sentence mentions a specific middle-sized asteroid that did indeed enter Earth's orbit. But the danger such an asteroid would pose is still regarded as hypothetical, which is more in line with what the writer's tone in the rest of the text.

I can see how that may be a little confusing, but I hope this helps you make sense of it.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by bloomy on Fri, 31/07/2020 - 17:56

Firstly, I'm gonna check if the information is true or not . If it's true I will stay with my family hoping that NASA could find a solution LOL

Submitted by Truicab on Fri, 17/07/2020 - 10:16

Wow, it's a difficult question.. I think that with everybody crying in state of panic, I couldn't do many things. Try to stay with my family believing in the salvation jjjjj

Submitted by Aakash Jain on Fri, 12/06/2020 - 03:07

Firstly, I will confirm whether the information is true or not through ISRO/NASA latest updates and if it is correct, then I'll check regarding the extent of damage it may cause. If it is going to be too serious , then I will first apologize to everyone if I had done anything wrong to them and secondly remain with my family till the problem is not over. It's better if we all remain together during such times.

Submitted by Muhammad Bagir on Sat, 23/05/2020 - 04:51

I think I will rewatch the movie about space, and try to applying it in my situation. This is a huge problem, so it need a huge solution too

Submitted by Ahmadbassam on Fri, 22/05/2020 - 20:55

Firstly, I would make sure if this news true or fake. Secondly, i would inform my family about it. Then, i would follow the authorities. Finally, i would pray.

Submitted by jsanchezv on Sat, 16/05/2020 - 22:12

It is a complicated question, since if I heard that an asteroid is close to the earth, If would be advisable to report to NASA, but, obviously they would know about this information because they have all the technical equipment for know in any moment when a type of asteroid is going in the way of the earth. If the asteroid is so big and this is will be produce a considerable impact in the surface of this planet, I would go to my home to give a very big hug to my family, to said that independently of what will happen I love all of them. :)
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Tue, 05/05/2020 - 13:13

I would notify NASA about it.

Submitted by Daudau0601 on Sat, 25/04/2020 - 04:45

It's so excited question. If i heard that an asteroid near the Earth, first of all i would try to check these news were right from NASA or fake because nowadays there are many fake news posted to get evil purpose. If these news were right, it would be hazardous for our planet. May be the asteroid will destroy total it and life no longer exists. But personally i think NASA will find anyway to solve these problem and save our planet because of its their mission.

Submitted by alibousellam on Tue, 14/04/2020 - 19:11

First of all , I want to thank this platform for this information. And I appreciate your efforts to give youths this opportunity to learn. Now, I will run over this controversial question: What would you do if you heard that an asteroid was near the earth ? Ok I find this question very interesting. So, for me If I heard that news, I would check and double- check it. I mean I should be certain of that news. Fake news are everywhere nowadays. I believe that if this hazardous object was near the earth, it would be a horrible accident. It would destroy our planet. It would be hard to defeat this asteroid. To be honest, I think that if an asteroid attacked the earth , there would not be no solutions because it is beyond the power of humans.
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Submitted by albert9315 on Sat, 11/01/2020 - 07:08

The question is very interesting. I heard these kinds of news from the others, But I did not believe that. As I was young at that time, in the aerospace, I though that there were many myths and they gave a beautiful light to solve my dream once said when it was burning at the sky. But I did not recognize that would be very dangerous and hazardous. Further more, as there are many asteroids unaccounted for us, I am afraid for it. But I believe that NASA`s working and his efforts. Anyway, I am very wondering about this news on the existing asteroids. (: a lot of)

Submitted by lifelearner on Thu, 02/01/2020 - 15:20

in my opinion , If I was surprised by a news that an asteroid is going to hit the earth, I would check the news if it is right or not. NASA is doing a great job tracking the orbits of these hazardous asteroids ,very few ones are unaccounted for,so no need to worry. when they pick up a dangerous object ,they make sure to log it. Most people would freak out , however , for people who believe in fate and have faith, these things would not matter.
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Submitted by Steve Zarv on Tue, 10/12/2019 - 05:37

First of all, I would devote myself to seek whether the provided information comes from reliable sources like NASA'S. If so, there could be several potential instances: On the one hand, a threaten for an specific geographic part where the asteroid probably will hit, if by any chance such area happens to be where I reside I would be obligated to forsake it or perhaps find a bunker that can deal with the impact. On the other hand, a PHA would mean a global-scale threaten from which would be scarcely possible to escape taking for granted the possible fact that NASA'S tools may fail, which I'm afraid that would leave us no choise but to accept our extinction as human beings.

Submitted by om mariam on Thu, 28/11/2019 - 18:28

If I heard such news I will fellow the news from NASA which will give instructors like how to deal with the situation and if there are safe places to go to, the limit of steroid destruction . I think this information will reduce the feeling of panic and help people to manage the situation in proper way.

Submitted by Younes86 on Fri, 15/11/2019 - 14:40

First thing to answer this question is to identify my region if it a region that exposed to asteroids dangerous or not, if yes I will obviously foster and work with any efficient efforts that will reduce the asteroids hazardous and save my life and my childrens, the second part of my answer that if my region is not, then I think I will be less active to work to limited the hazardous of the asteroids, sorry for that but that's the humans facts.

Submitted by angxm on Tue, 03/09/2019 - 23:27

I would be scared to hear that an asteroid will be near the earth, however, we have to make sure whether the report is accurate or fake, sometimes these kind of news are fakes like the end of the world. Therefore, we have to certain with NASA who is the only means that can track this type of information. If it would be hazardous for the human race, what will be the damage and it is possible to evacuate some zones to save lives.

Submitted by Sarah-njzh on Fri, 24/05/2019 - 05:54

when I hear an asteroid near the earth I would be panicked as most of people. but then I'll think about something to escape if it's possible. the important thing is to do what I want and to be a better man.
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Submitted by AL-Mustafa on Tue, 26/03/2019 - 07:38

If i'm within the impacted area i will leave it as fast as i can , if am not , i will think about possible evacuation plans

If the asteroid is big enough, even if the hit would be very small it can remove all of life on the earth because of smoke, shockwave and other stuff.

Submitted by wnyahoda on Wed, 06/03/2019 - 17:44

Considering the history of people injured in Russian, I will surely be frightened by the news. It would also be of great imlortance to gather more about the asteroid. The information will help me know what course of action to take. Either find a bunker and lock myself and family in or make a run for it.

Submitted by FamousBlondie on Wed, 06/03/2019 - 11:01

I would be scared and I would try to inform myself better.

Submitted by sarah on Mon, 04/03/2019 - 21:57

If the asteroid measures 1km wide, it want pose danger according to NASA. But if is hazardous one i will be scared and there is no where to ran to.