Or, better named probably, that really big rock for Valentine’s Day your babe always wanted?
There is no risk of it hitting Earth. BUT, this flyby will be so close it will mess up any future predictions of where it might go. People are already speculating it will hit Earth the next time. But, chances are MUCH more likely it will go spinning out into space or simply get eaten by the Sun. Even IF it did hit Earth, it’s not a life-ending sized rock. Maybe Tunguska sized blast, but even that is doubtful.
Sometimes I totally feel like I’m wasting my time here. On July 20th, which was what, ten days ago? I wrote about the impact on Jupiter. That led me to a conversation with a friend who mentioned the Manson Crater in Iowa. This monster hit was so big it obliterated all life in what would the United States in seconds, and all life on North America within hours. The rest of the world was rendered quite uncomfortable for some time after. At first I thought he was referring to the Chicxulub Crater in the Yucatan, which did pretty much the same thing thousands of years after Manson. But he wasn’t, it was totally different. Neither of the these should be confused with the Tunguska Impact over Siberia. Other than leveling millions of trees over hundreds of square miles, it really was just a minor footnote of an impact. There are plenty of other smaller impacts throughout modern history documented up to this year. In simple terms, it happens all the time. The only thing that makes a difference is size. The one that just hit Jupiter was pretty big. However, we get them occasionally on Earth as well. We’ve had a few near misses in modern history. And, there have probably been a few that did hit that was never documented.
After writing about both Jupiter and the Manson Crater, Livescience felt compelled to write this article today:
Believe it or not, they come to the conclusion that it could indeed happen. It’s just not terribly likely it will happen any time soon as the universe in our neck of the woods isn’t terribly crowded at this time. Don’t tell that to Jupiter tho. However, on the upside, Jupiter and the Sun are our huge vacuum cleaners sucking up all the dirt floating around us. Other than an occasional black eye, it’s hard to do much damage to Jupiter.
Now, if you’re really concerned about this happening any time soon without the news going bonkers about it beforehand, you can subscribe to the Asteroid Watch newsfeed, which I have over there on the sidebar. They even have a handy desktop widget for those so inclined.
That is a time-lapse gif. Right in the center, you can see a very small, very dim dot, moving. That is asteroid 2009 DD45. It will pass between the Earth and Moon today. It will barely skim where our satellites orbit. It is THAT close! We got basically a two day notice on this one. However, it is very small. One larger than this one hit late last year and no one really noticed. But, it just keeps irking me that we:
can’t find these things sooner.
have absolutely no ability to do anything about them if they did pose a threat.
In this case, if it had been just a teenie weenie bit closer ( in AU’s ), it could have knocked out a satellite or two. If it had been a teenie weenie bit larger, it could have caused some serious damage on Earth.
The Obama administration is trying to ban all weapons in space. I think this is a very unwise decision. I’m not worried about Al Qaida in space. I am however, worried about a lot of stuff already in space coming down on us.
The minor planet 2007 VN84 does not exist and the designation is to be retired.
This incident, along with previous NEOCP postings of the WMAP spacecraft, highlights the deplorable state of availability of positional information on distant artificial objects (whether in earth orbit or in solar orbit). The Distant Artificial Satellites Observations (DASO) page lists a number of such objects, but has to be updated on a fairly regular basis from five different sources and data is not always available for the timespans needed. A single source for information on all distant artificial objects would be very desirable.
This just leads me to wonder how Denis could figure it out and not MPC, which is assigned the duty of doing so? And, it also makes me wonder if they bother to read any news at all regarding man-made objects since the Rosetta fly-by has been all over various astronomy sites. I have no dog in this issue, but I knew Rosetta was coming for weeks.
My instinct tells me there are too many agencies doing the same thing and not talking to each other. The last thing we need when researching near Earth objects is beauracratic turf fighting. NEO and MPC need to be one and the same. If the IAU wants to help fund these types of services, then they need to join WITH NEO and not be totally detached from it as they obviously are now. Now, I’m no fan of NEO’s efforts either. But maybe, if they combine the efforts of the two, then we’ll get better information on something this important.
If not, the propensity of the United Nations to waste huge amounts of resources while not aggressively seeking solutions to impending problems means that I do not trust them with the complicated decision of how to nudge an asteroid. The United States has already made successful contact with a comet via Stardust. It was such a non-event that it received very little media notice. Now, that might have “just” been a comet, but, it proved that we already have the capability of making contact, or nudging, an asteroid. The Japanese actually made contact with an actual comet. So, it’s not like we’re re-inventing the wheel here. The technology and capability are already there. All the UN is is a bureaucracy, that’s all. That’s the very last thing we need in dealing with a life-ending threat that is 2004 MN4, now named Apophis.
And, just in case people forget the ramifications, here’s this movie again of what happens if the IAU once again decides large blobs of gas billions of light years away are more important than rocks meandering through space:
See the label Toutatis? See how it has a kind of greenish hue shadowing it? That greenish hue is the label for Earth. Toutatis and Earth are superimposed on each other. That’s how close, from a stellar perspective, that 3 mile asteroid will be from Earth. If scientists are wrong, it will wipe out an area the size of Europe and the dust cloud will kill all life as we know it.