Experts also warned that if one of these asteroids, some of which travel at up to 70,000 miles an hour, were to hit Earth it could 'alter life as we know it' and plumes of debris thrown into the atmosphere would change the climate making the planet inhabitable for all life including humans and that an impact would still be catastrophic destroying cities and knocking out transport and communication networks.

According to NASA's Near Earth Object Programme, there are 68 'close approaches' forecast before the end of next month and the next, which is due on January 3, is the 490-metre wide 2005 YQ96 asteroid currently hurtling through space at more than 30,000 miles per hour.

The biggest to skim the planet will be the mile-wide 2007 EJ asteroid due to throttle past on January 12th at 34,500 miles per hour.

Experts said that although it is unlikely any of these will hit the Earth, there is always a chance they may veer off course or explode showering the planet with debris and an impact would trigger a disaster similar to the collision which killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

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