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Asteroid misses Earth by 75,000 miles - closer than moo

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Just seen on news that an asteroid the size of a football pitch missed Earth by 75,000 miles. To put it in context, the distance from the Earth to the moon is 240,000 miles. - SO.. basically a VERY near miss.It would have generated power of 1000 H bombs.Only one problem with this, is that it was "only" discovered 3 DAYS AFTER it had passed Earth. I thought we had technology which could detect such "small" objects.Very worrying, but too late to panic! Will

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We'd better get Bruce Willis and freinds ready...:-lolScott

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It is a very scary prospect thinking we won't know what hit us untill it's too late.I always felt that we're in a tough spot right now. We are aware of asteroids and know we need to do something about them, but we are still developing the technology that will save us if we do see one.It's like the space of time when you find out you are in a construction zone to when you put on a hardhat- hoping nothing will happen until you get that hat on.But then again, if the government knew it was on a collision course, would they tell us? Probably not.(BTW, not to be rude, but this would be best in the General Discussions forum :-))

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Yep i agree, sorry about putting in this forum, it's just that i tend to use it more than any other. (-: Will

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Hey Will,For those who might not know (myself included), what's a football pitch? I'm assuming it's another term for a soccer stadium?Dave

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Hi :)I see the point :(BTW, not to be rude, but this would be best in the General Discussions forum )But if one is going to hit us can you please post it in this forum because in the general one i shall most proberbly miss it and that would be a pity :)I think it is ok to post gonna happen asteroids in this one ,is that ok ?Anniette xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Where did you see that? I looked at CNN, Sky News, CNBC Nordic...nothing about it. And there's nothing about it mentioned on any site. Nevermind, found it mentioned on Space.com. Thought you were trying to pull my leg for a while there :-lol

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Us in the UK have BBC NEWS, it was on there.A football pitch is also known as a soccer stadium. Think about something about that size, then your on the right track.LaterWill

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Humm...I knew about the one in March that the scientists missed (found it 4 days later). It passed a bit further than the distance from earth to moon and was a little smaller than a football (US) field.EDIT:Found it...Excerpt from JPL:"The 100 meter-sized asteroid 2002 MN passed within 0.3 lunar distances of the Earth on June 14, 2002, some three days prior to its discovery. According to its most likely orbital path, this object came within 120,000 km (74,000 miles) of the Earth"WOW!Ya know, that really is close considering we have bunches of geostationary sats at 23,000 miles.

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Rest assured--had the Asteroid been the size of a baseball stadium, as opposed to a football pitch, we would have heard about it here on this side of the pond :)

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That miss distance of 75,000 miles is very close to the record close approach of an object that has had its orbit subsequently calculated. 1994 XM passed by Earth at a similar distance in December 1994, but that object was only around the size of a house. This one would have done FAR more damage if it had impacted.Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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Mike,The best that we can do at the present time is to set up a comprehensive survey program that would detect all known NEA's (Near Earth Asteroids) as soon as possible. This would require several large telescopes in both northern and southern hemispheres to be dedicated SOLELY to asteroid detection. The only thing stopping this at the present time is our respective government's continued refusal to provide the necessary funds to BUILD these telescopes. It's the same old story.In short, IT CAN'T HAPPEN TO US.Well, it CAN happen.........and one day, it WILL happen. Let's just hope that when that day comes, we have already come to our senses.Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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Anniette,Just think. If it was posted in the General forum, and you missed it, then you would be safe. :-lolChris Low,ENGLAND.

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You wouldn't believe how much damage an object only 100 meters in diameter would cause if it hit the Earth. A football field is TINY compared to the size of our planet, but the energy released from an object of this size smashing into the Earth at thousands of kilometers per hour would be colossal. It would probably leave a crater a few kilometers in diameter, but the blast wave and massive amounts of vapourised rock ejected from the impact site at hypersonic velocities would cause utter devastation over a much greater distance.Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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Well, considering that a 70m object would have flattened a city the size of Atlanta (with the equivalent energy of a 4-megaton bomb) , you speculate what this one (100m) could have done. The scary thing is - we never saw it coming.The story of the previous (70m) near miss was carried by CNN in March.Nothing, so far on this one except a the JPL site. Well, maybe Martha Stewart is more important. :)

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BBC tends to be a bit of an alarmist when it comes to news like that.....they'll report anything that seems threatening, whereas US based news will report any infractions on it's own pop culture before a genuine danger is reported.

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Chris,I'm not trying to be provocative here nor do I bill myself as an expert in any of these matters, but I suspect the biggest reason building warning devices isn't any kind of priority is that we can't do anything even knowing that information.IOW, at our present stage of technology (as opposed to "movie" technology, with Mr. Willis and company) we couldn't have prevented this asteroid from hitting us in any sense whatsoever. I'll go even further on a limb and suggest that we probably couldn't even predict with much accuracy exactly where it would impact the earth (if it were going to).And even if we knew to within the mile or two that it would hit, say, Atlanta -- so what? Impossible to evacuate a US city that size without causing so much more destruction and panic everywhere (since everyone in the entire state of Georgia would have probably tried to leave). One day we may very well have the technology to deflect or otherwise protect ourselves from space borne objects this size (and it may well grow out of Regan's "Star Wars" defense, which would be a fitting irony) but without it there just isn't any point in worrying.The bad news is we're all going to die: good news is we just don't know when.

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If we could discover every object that is a threat, then we could calculate their orbits. These could be integrated several decades into the future, and this would give us an idea if any were on a potential collision course. It's a lot easier to move an object by a small amount over a period of fifty years, rather than a large amount in only one year. Let's face it, if we were looking at the prospect of a massive asteroid impact in fifty years time, then we WOULD try to do something about it.We would have no other choice.Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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Kathy,I suspect that an object 70 metres in diameter would have a far greater destructive power than 4 megatons. The object that exploded over Siberia on 30th June 1908 was calculated to be around 50 metres in diameter, and the explosion was equivalent to 20 megatons.Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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Once again, Chris, I'm no expert, but I do read and listen to a lot of them, and they seem to indicate your theory is flawed because celestrial objects such as we're talking about can not be predicted out to that degree of accuracy. If you remember a few years back there was an asteroid they identified and it had a probability of hitting the earth but it was rather small (and it didn't hit the earth) -- and this was only several months in advance.And Even if you were to tell people there was, say, a 25% chance (which is pretty #@@% good a chance in these things) that a large space object would hit the earth in fifty years I am dead solid certain that it wouldn't matter to 99% of the earth's population, most of whom are more worried about next month's rent than a probable event 50 years in their future. Even convincing politicians (who drive the money) it would be in their best interests to support a deflection effort would probably be futile. And I'm not so sure I disagree -- once again, until we really have good technology to do anything about it, I don't think we should worry.We have a *lot* more pressing problems in this world that need a lot of money and attention thrown at them. This ain't one of them, IMHO.

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Hi Chris:The paper stated that if this one hit it would be about 10 MT. In any case, we are talking horrific damage.

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It is common knowlege among astronomers that objects like these are impossible to detect IF coming from the direction of the sun. The sun does a very good job at hiding them. Only when they are inbound INTO our solar system will we have a good chance of detecting them.

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OK - where would it have hit if it had?

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Kelley,You may not be an expert about this kind of thing, but I have been reading and studying about them for years ! I even have a computer program on my PC that can SIMULATE these close approaches, provided I have up to date orbital elements.There are certainly a lot of problems in the world, and I don't need to remind everyone about the most recent addition, but your attitude (and I'm not trying to criticise you here) is precisely why progress is slow in this field. If a large space object was calculated to hit the Earth fifty years from now, then it is our RESPONSIBILITY to do something about it. Ignoring it because it isn't going to happen in our lifetimes would be a VERY serious mistake. It takes a lot less energy to move an object a few cms (and then let orbital mechanics do the rest over the intervening 50 years), than it does to move it a few thousand kms virtually instantaneously. And let's not kid ourselves here. An object only 10 kms in diameter has the potential to annihilate humanity (and a large percentage of all other life on this planet). Ten kilometres is very small compared to the size of the Earth, but an object of this size would produce a GLOBAL catastrophe. Being on the other side of the planet at the time of impact wouldn't necessarily save you.One last point. Orbits CAN be calculated with this kind of accuracy (at least for inert objects like asteroids) if enough observations are made over a sufficient length of time. That's why we need a dedicated observation program to be undertaken as soon as possible. The cost would be a tiny fraction of one per cent of the world's military budgets. I don't consider that to be too high a price to pay in order to save the planet.Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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