By Daniel Bates
If you live in Britain, the U.S. or China, start preparing now.
Scientists have drawn up a league table of the countries which will be worst affected in the event of an asteroid strike.
They have identified for the first time those which will suffer catastrophic loss of life or be so crippled it will be almost impossible for them to recover.
This image, taken by the Faulkes Telescope South, is a single 20-second exposure of 2011 MD as it zipped past Earth at a distance of 7,500 miles on Monday. Scientists have drawn up a league table of the countries which will be worst affected in the event of an asteroid strike
Developed countries make up the majority of those on the list, but China is there too because of the sheer number of people who would die.
Even smaller countries like Sweden are in grave danger because of the damage to their infrastructure.
The list has been compiled by researchers from the University of Southampton using software called called NEOimpactor, short for NASA's ‘NEO’ or Near Earth Object programme.
Overall the top ten countries most at risk are: China, Indonesia, India, Japan, the U.S, the Philippines, Italy, the U.K, Brazil and Nigeria.
Looking at population loss, the U.S, China, Indonesia, India and Japan are most in danger.
Those countries which face massive devastation to their infrastructure are Canada, the U.S, China, Japan and Sweden.
The threat of asteroids was illustrated on Monday when a rock as large as a small house soared within 7,500 miles of Earth.
Red-faced astronomers only discovered it a few days before and until then they thought it was a piece of space junk.
An asteroid crash into Earth in the film Deep Impact. Looking at population loss, the U.S, China, Indonesia, India and Japan are most in danger from a space rock
‘The threat of Earth being hit by an asteroid is increasingly being accepted as the single greatest natural disaster hazard faced by humanity,’ said Nick Bailey, of the University of Southampton, who developed the NEOimpactor software.
‘The consequences for human populations and infrastructure as a result of an impact are enormous.
‘Nearly one hundred years ago a remote region near the Tunguska River witnessed the largest asteroid impact event in living memory when a relatively small object (approximately 50 meters in diameter) exploded in mid-air.
‘While it only flattened unpopulated forest, had it exploded over London it could have devastated everything within the M25.
‘Our results highlight those countries that face the greatest risk from this most global of natural hazards and thus indicate which nations need to be involved in mitigating the threat.’
According to DailyGalaxy.com it will take an asteroid bigger than 12miles in diameter to destroy all plant and animal life.
Such an asteroid is thought to have been responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs 65million years ago - a rock up to 10miles in diameter hit Earth at 25,000 an hour with a force of 100 megatons, the equivalent of one Hiroshima bomb for everyone on the planet.
Earth has avoided such an event since in part because of Jupiter’s gravitational field which limits our exposure to space rocks.