Tag Archives | Near Earth Objects

The Asteroid Hunters

Tunguska epicenter.jpg

Tunguska epicenter by Tungus1908 (CC)

Every so often asteroids and comets (Near-Earth Objects to those familiar with the jargon) slam into Earth and wipe out whoever or whatever is in the vicinity (and often beyond); they just don’t do it very often (although the Tunguska event is within recent human history). The bad news is that it’s going to happen again and it could be a whole lot worse than Tunguska. Cue a group of scientists who are preparing to do battle, whom Popular Mechanics dubs “Asteroid Hunters”:

…The Tunguska asteroid would have leveled a large city and its surroundings. The example most often given is metropolitan London. But the threat of that actually happening in the near future isn’t keeping anyone up at night. The occurrence of large asteroid impacts is rare, and the vast majority of the Earth’s surface is unpopulated — with 71 percent covered by water — so even if a large asteroid should appear suddenly, the odds are it won’t strike civilization.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

End of the world plan: scientists to nudge asteroid off course as practice for protecting the Earth

Remember the old arcade game “Asteroids”? So do scientists at NASA and the ESA, who are planning to play it for real, per the Independent:

Scientists are to send two spacecraft to knock an asteroid off course, as part of a practice for what they would do if a rock was threatening the future of humanity.

The ESA's AIM watches the impact as the asteroid is knocked off course ESA - ScienceOffice.org

The ESA’s AIM watches the impact as the asteroid is knocked off course ESA – ScienceOffice.org


The joint US-European Aida (Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment) mission will send a small spacecraft to crash into the egg-shaped rock, known as Didymoon. That asteroid doesn’t pose any threat to us — and is far too small to do so — but the mission will be important test for whether our plans would work if we do eventually come at risk of civilisation being wiped out by a space rock.

The missions are set to be launched in October 2020.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

NASA: There is No Asteroid Threatening Earth

There’s a panic in certain quarters of the Internet that an asteroid is going to hit Earth next month. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has issued this statement rubbishing the rumors:

Numerous recent blogs and web postings are erroneously claiming that an asteroid will impact Earth, sometime between Sept. 15 and 28, 2015. On one of those dates, as rumors go, there will be an impact — “evidently” near Puerto Rico — causing wanton destruction to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States and Mexico, as well as Central and South America.

This view of Earth comes from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer aboard the Terra satellite. Image credit: NASA

This view of Earth comes from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer aboard the Terra satellite. Image credit: NASA


That’s the rumor that has gone viral — now here are the facts.

“There is no scientific basis — not one shred of evidence — that an asteroid or any other celestial object will impact Earth on those dates,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Researchers Plan for Global Armageddon Threats

Scared that asteroids are going to  destroy Earth? Don’t worry, people are on it, per USA Today:

It’s no ordinary meeting when a bad decision could spell global catastrophe.

For the experts assembled at a conference hall in Italy this spring, the choices were agonizing. A gigantic space rock was bearing down on Earth. If it slammed into the planet, it could damage an area the size of Ireland. But a campaign to push the rock, known as an asteroid, off course could shatter it, possibly widening the devastation, if not done correctly,

In this artist's concept, an astronaut performs a tethering maneuver at an asteroid. The Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV) is close by, with the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) docked to a habitat in the background. (NASA)

In this artist’s concept, an astronaut performs a tethering maneuver at an asteroid. The Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV) is close by, with the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) docked to a habitat in the background. (NASA)


The officials opted to shift the monster’s path, and it prevented unfathomable devastation. There was just one small problem: a chunk of the asteroid broke away and made a beeline for Bangladesh.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

It’s Asteroid Day!

Did you know there’s an official Asteroid Day? Well there is and it’s today, June 30th. Another thing you may not have known: one of the people behind it is Brian May from the band Queen, more accurately entitled Dr. Brian May as he has a PhD in Astrophysics. The official video – a version of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” – and blurb appear below:

Asteroid Day is a global awareness movement where people from around the world come together to learn about asteroids and what we can do to protect our planet, our families, communities, and future generations. Asteroid Day will be held on the anniversary of the 1908 Siberian Tunguska event, the largest asteroid impact on Earth in recent history. You can now sign the 100x Declaration yourself, right here.

The Asteroid Day 100x Declaration was signed by astronauts, scientists, nobel laureates, technologists and artists  – click here to view it – will you join them?… Read the rest

Continue Reading

NASA and NNSA May Use Nuclear Weapons Against Asteroids

Chelyabinsk meteor trail. Photo: Nikita Plekhanov (CC)

Chelyabinsk meteor trail. Photo: Nikita Plekhanov (CC)


Shooting nukes into space on rockets: what could possibly go wrong? The geniuses at NASA and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have apparently overcome any reservations they may have had and are combining forces to think of ways to nuke any comet or asteroid that comes too close to Earth, per the New York Times:

In grappling with the threat of doomsday rocks from outer space, Hollywood has always been far ahead of the federal government, cranking out thrillers full of swashbuckling heroes, rockets and nuclear blasts that save the planet.

Now Washington is catching up.

On Wednesday, the nation’s agencies that build civilian rockets and nuclear arms sealed an agreement to start working together on planetary defense. The goal is to learn how to better deflect comets and asteroids that might endanger cities and, in the case of very large intruders, the planet as a whole.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Asteroid Impact Will Destroy Civilization This September

Coast Impact“Asteroid Impact Will Destroy Civilization This September”: That’s the headline from UK tabloid The Mirror, attributing it to “conspiracy theorists, ” making sure to drop in key words like “illuminati” and “New World Order”:

Conspiracy theorists are predicting a cataclysmic climate event which will destroy civilisation – in just three months’ time.

End-of-time predictors on various blogs and websites have come up with the period between September 22-28 as the likely time frame for the impending catastrophe.

Many biblical theorists maintain the events will trigger the Rapture and the start of a seven-year-tribulation.

These theories, which are restricted to tiny minority of churches and groups, have been dismissed by scientists and are thought to be well wide of the mark.

Fortunately for us, almost all asteroids are destroyed due to the extreme atmospheric friction heating they receive, breaking up into harmless shards that burn up before hitting the ground.

NASA has made asteroid detection a high priority.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Asteroid Large As Mountain Heading For Earth

Needless to say, if a mountain-sized asteroid slams into the Earth’s atmosphere, it will be devastating to life on our planet. Could the Russian scientist who says he’s spotted the asteroid in question be right? First the news video from the Russian Space Agency (in Russian, sorry):

Report from the Christian Science Monitor:

A Russian astrophysicist says his team has located a huge, mountain-sized asteroid whose orbit crosses the Earth’s every three years.

Even though experts say the giant object, known as 2014 UR116, poses no immediate threat of collision, its unexpected discovery underscores how little is still known about asteroids and their unpredictable orbits.

Vladimir Lipunov, a professor at Moscow State University, announced the find in a short documentary, “Asteroid Attack,” posted on the website of the Russian Space Agency on Sunday. Mr. Lipunov says the asteroid, which he calculates is 370 meters in diameter, could hit the Earth with an explosion 1,000 times greater than the surprise 2013 impact of a bus-sized meteor in Russia.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

United Nations to Adopt Asteroid Defense Plan

Ssc2005-01bThe Hollywood adaptation of this story is no doubt already in the works. In the meantime, Scientific American has the details of the UN’s plan to defeat an asteroid attack:

When a meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in February, the world’s space agencies found out along with the rest of us, on Twitter and YouTube. That, says former astronaut Ed Lu, is unacceptable—and the United Nations agrees. Last week the General Assembly approved a set of measures that Lu and other astronauts have recommended to protect the planet from the dangers of rogue asteroids.

The U.N. plans to set up an “International Asteroid Warning Group” for member nations to share information about potentially hazardous space rocks. If astronomers detect an asteroid that poses a threat to Earth, the U.N.’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will help coordinate a mission to launch a spacecraft to slam into the object and deflect it from its collision course.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Massive Asteroid Will Buzz Earth Today

This “Near Earth Object” is so big it has its own moon, and it’s visiting Earth today. Let’s hope the scientists didn’t get the estimated distance wrong! Via NPR:

An asteroid nine times the size of a cruise ship is dropping by Earth Friday, and it’s not coming alone. Asteroid 1998 QE2 will be about 3.6 million miles from our planet at its closest approach. But the new proximity has already given scientists a surprise: The asteroid has its own moon, measured at about 2,000 feet wide.

Today will mark the closest the asteroid comes to Earth for at least the next 200 years, say researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who led the radar observations spotting the asteroid’s moon. The point of maximum proximity will come at 4:59 p.m. ET, or 20:59 UTC, Friday, according to the space agency.

“In the near-Earth population, about 16 percent of asteroids that are about 655 feet (200 meters) or larger are binary or triple systems,” according to NASA.

Read the rest
Continue Reading