Near Earth Objects

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…





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…








Given the history of planetary destruction from meteor strikes in the past, trying to stop them from impacting our now vastly more populated planet seems like a good idea, but one wonders…


An excellent and timely question, asked by Emi Kolawole at the Washington Post:

Seriously, why aren’t all of America’s best and brightest working feverishly to keep us from being struck by an asteroid that could wipe a city (or more) from the face of the Earth? A cure for cancer, balancing the nation’s federal budget, and eliminating world hunger would all be rendered moot if an asteroid pulverized the planet.

Granted, as the Post’s Brian Vastag reports, neither a city-destroying nor Earth-ending space rock is on anywhere near an immediate collision course with the planet — for now. (Seriously, don’t panic.) But the anticipated near-miss of asteroid 2012 DA14 by 17,000 miles on Feb. 15 should inspire every innovator to want to figure out how to make Earth asteroid-proof, right?

Now, of course, there are a number of people working on how to keep Earth safe from asteroids and other potentially Earth-threatening debris. There are so many, in fact, that there is an internationalPlanetary Defense Conference in Flagstaff, Ariz., in April.

And, as NASA Spokesman David Agle wrote…


433 ErosThe mission would not occur until the 2020s, so we all can rest assured that no harbinger of doom is on the way …? As Richard Gray reports in the Telegraph:

It is a space mission straight from the Hollywood film Armageddon

A team of astronauts, however, have already started preparing for just such a mission. Among them is Major Tim Peake, a former British Army helicopter test pilot who is now the first official British astronaut with the European Space Agency.

Next month they will begin a training programme that will teach them how to operate vehicles, conduct spacewalks and gather samples on the surface of an asteroid.

While the primary goal of a mission to an asteroid will be scientific to learn more about their hostile environments, the skills needed to work on their surface could also prove invaluable should scientists discover one on a collision course with Earth…


Celebrity astro-physicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson shares some advice on how to guard against pesky Near-Earth Objects (like the meteor that lit up California and Nevada last weekend), in Wired Science:

The chances that your tombstone will read “Killed by Asteroid” are about the same as they’d be for “Killed in Airplane Crash.”

Solar System debris rains down on Earth in vast quantities — more than a hundred tons of it a day. Most of it vaporizes in our atmosphere, leaving stunning trails of light we call shooting stars. More hazardous are the billions, likely trillions, of leftover rocks — comets and asteroids — that wander interplanetary space in search of targets.

Most asteroids are made of rock. The rest are metal, mostly iron. Some are rubble piles — gravitationally bound collections of bits and pieces. Most live between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter and will never come near Earth.



Allison McCann reports for Popular Mechanics on the visual trail of a comet as it approached the sun, vaporized, and finally disintegrated: Sun-grazing comets are frustratingly elusive. As they approach the intense…



The New York Times reports: Ebay and other Web sites pulse with hundreds of sales pitches. “The pieces below have an exceptional patina,” a site called Star-bits.com said of 10 pictured fragments….




One of the most likely ‘Earth Apocalypse’ scenarios among the many bandied about by 2012 alarmists is that a “Near Earth Object” — as asteroids, meteors and other space junk that might…



Hopefully it won’t be cloudy! If you don’t live in a totally light-saturated neighborhood (or the southern hemisphere) look at the skies tonight for a fantastic light show — the Perseids. You should be able to see as much as a meteor per minute, caused by the debris from multiple orbits around the sun of the comet Swift-Tuttle. The video below is illustrative, but believe me, it will look a whole lot better with the naked eye.