Another Asteroid! Third Space Rock Buzzes Past Earth
A tiny space rock barely missed Earth on Thursday in the third of back-to-back-to-back asteroid flybys over the past 24 hours, coming six times closer than the orbit of the moon.
The 25-foot-wide (8-meter-wide) asteroid 2014 EC came within 38,300 miles (61,600 kilometers) of our planet at 4:21 p.m. ET, NASA officials said. For comparison, the moon orbits Earth at an average distance of 239,000 miles (385,000 kilometers).
"This is not an unusual event," Paul Chodas, a senior scientist in the Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. "Objects of this size pass this close to the Earth several times every year." [Asteroid Quiz: Test Your Space Rock Smarts]
But Thursday's close encounter was special in one sense — it came just one day after two other space-rock flybys. On Wednesday afternoon, the 100-foot-wide (30-meter-wide) asteroid 2014 DX110 zipped within 217,000 miles (350,000 kilometers) of Earth.
"A third asteroid, 2014 EF, which is closer in size to today's 2014 EC, passed Earth at about 7 p.m. PST (10 p.m. EST) Wednesday, with closest approach about twice as far from Earth as 2014 EC's closest approach," NASA officials wrote in an update Thursday.
There was never any danger of an impact by the asteroids during these flybys, researchers said.
2014 EC was just discovered on Tuesday night. It's about half as wide as the space rock that exploded without warning over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013.
Asteroid Found with Rings! First-of-Its-Kind Discovery Stuns Astronomers (Video, Images)
By Nola Taylor Redd, Space.com Contributor March 26, 2014
Rings Surrounding Asteroid Chariklo Credit: Lucie Maquet The rings of Saturn are among the crown jewels of our solar syste, but it turns out that asteroids can have rings of their own, too. Here: See an artist's view of the rings surrounding the asteroid Chariklo, which is only 155 miles (250 kilometers) across. The asteroid is the first non-planetary body in the solar system discovered to have its own ring system. Image released March 26, 2014.
Scientists have made a stunning discovery in the outer realm of the solar system — an asteroid with its own set of rings that orbits the sun between Saturn and Uranus. The space rock is the first non-planetary object ever found to have its own ring system, researchers say.
The pair of space rock rings encircle the asteroid Chariklo. They were most likely formed after a collision scattered debris around the asteroid, according to a new study unveiled today (March 27). The asteroid rings also suggests the presence of a still-undiscovered moon around Chariklo that's keeping them stable, researchers said.
"We weren’t looking for a ring and didn’t think small bodies like Chariklo had them at all, so the discovery — and the amazing amount of detail we saw in the system — came as a complete surprise!" study leader Felipe Braga-Ribas, of the National Observatory in Brazil said in a statement today. [Asteroid with Rings: Artist Views of Space Rock Chariklo (Photos)] www.space.com/25227-asteroid-chariklo-rings-images-gallery.html
First Asteroid Ring System Found around Chariklo GlobalSunTimes
Published on Mar 26, 2014
This ESOcast shows how observations at many sites in South America, including ESO's La Silla Observatory, have made the surprise discovery that the remote asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings. This is the smallest object by far found to have rings and only the fifth body in the Solar System — after the much larger planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — to have this feature. The origin of these rings remains a mystery, but they may be the result of a collision that created a disc of debris.
Robertson may be wrong, but scientists say it's pretty much just a matter of time! COME ON ASTEROID HUNTERS!!
Asteroid Will Destroy the World Next Week, says Televangelist Pat Robertson
By Mark Piggott April 27, 2014
Don't make any long term plans, because next week the earth is going to be destroyed by a gigantic asteroid. That's the gloomy prediction of US televangelist Pat Robertson, who made the announcement on his TV show. Robertson believes Jesus prophesied this Extinction Level Event (ELE) and urges the public to buy his book, "The End of the Age", to find out more.
"I wrote a book," he says. "It deals with an asteroid hitting the Earth. I don't see anything else that fulfills the prophetic words of Jesus Christ other than an asteroid strike. There isn't anything that will cause the seas to roil, that will, you know, cause the skies to darken, the moon and the sun not to give their light, the nations terrified on Earth of what's happening."
Interestingly, Robertson also claims an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs – though how this squares with his Creationist beliefs is unclear. And, while astronomers have not issued any warnings of imminent world destruction, they do now believe the earth is struck by large asteroids far more frequently than was previously thought.
At a conference at Seattle's Museum of Flight last week, three astronauts presented data showing the surprising regularity of large asteroid strikes. US Shuttle and Soyuz Astronaut Dr. Ed Lu, NASA Astronaut Tom Jones and Apollo 8 Astronaut Bill Anders revealed that since 2000 a total of 26 nuclear-sized explosions have occurred on earth as a result of asteroid impact. Their explosive energy ranged from 1-600 kilotons. One of the most notable was the asteroid strike at Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013 which injured over 1,200 people. The bomb which destroyed Hiroshima in 1945 was 15 kilotons.
Lu, now co-founder and CEO of the B612 Foundation, warned: "While most large asteroids with the potential to destroy an entire country or continent have been detected, less than 10,000 of the more than a million dangerous asteroids with the potential to destroy an entire major metropolitan area have been found by all existing space or terrestrially-operated observatories. Because we don't know where or when the next major impact will occur, the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a 'city-killer' sized asteroid has been blind luck."
Towards the end of his broadcast, Robertson – who has past form when it comes to making doomsday prophecies - appears to backtrack somewhat from his eye-catching claim that the earth will be wiped out next week.
"It could be next week, it could be 1,000 years from now. But nevertheless, we want to be ready whenever the Lord says, 'I'm wrapping it up, and it's time to come home.'"
Another Asteroid-Strike Danger: Thrill-Seeking Rubberneckers?
By Mike Wall, Senior Writer June 10, 2014
An artist's illustration of asteroids, or near-Earth objects, that highlight the need for a complete Space Situational Awareness
The opportunity to see a big space rock slam into our planet will likely prove too alluring for some brave and reckless souls to resist.
Whenever a massive asteroid lines a city up in its crosshairs — and it's just a matter of time before this happens if humanity doesn't take some defensive measures, experts stress — a few rubberneckers are bound to ignore evacuation orders and head toward the impact site to get an eyeful of a once-in-a-lifetime event.
"I think the emergency management folks really would have to worry about looky-lous and tourists and people who want to see it, because this would be one of the most spectacular natural events in human history — probably the most spectacular event, and predicted very precisely," said asteroid impact expert Mark Boslough of Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico. [Potentially Dangerous Asteroids (Images)] www.space.com/20151-potentially-dangerous-asteroids-images.html
"So that would be a concern, and that's probably something that emergency management folks need to consider when they write their playbook of what they would do," Boslough said Thursday (June 5) during a webcast produced by the online Slooh community observatory that discussed the 1,100-foot-wide (335 meters) asteroid 2014 HQ2014, which some observers nicknamed "The Beast."
"The Beast" flew harmlessly by Earth on Sunday (June 8), missing us by 777,000 miles (1.25 million kilometers) — more than three times the distance between our planet and the moon.
While there was never any danger of an impact on this pass, 2014 HQ2014 would have done serious damage if it had slammed into a populated area. The asteroid could have destroyed an entire city, Boslough said, creating a crater 3 miles (5 km) wide and breaking windows 62 miles (100 km) from the impact site.
Radar observations as "The Beast" got closer would have enabled researchers to predict its impact location to within 0.6 miles (1 km) and its impact time to within 1 second, he added. This information, of course, would be of great interest to emergency-management personnel and rubberneckers alike.
How Will Earth's Leaders Respond to a Real Asteroid Threat?
By Leonard David, Space.com's Space Insider Columnist August 13, 2014
Asteroids have pounded Earth in the past and will continue to do so in the future. If a big one lines the planet up in its crosshairs, civilization itself could be imperiled.
Now, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space has taken a step toward combating the asteroid threat. A special U.N. action team on near-Earth objects (NEOs) has recommended the creation of an International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN), which is designed to gather and analyze NEO data and provide timely warnings to national authorities if a potentially hazardous NEO were to threaten Earth.
A number of components of an IAWN already exist and are working together. Now, the objective is to pool together the expertise of the world's many relevant scientific organizations, to discover and track objects and generate early warnings of potential impacts. [Potentially Dangerous Asteroids (Images)] www.space.com/20151-potentially-dangerous-asteroids-images.html
Secondly, a Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) has been meeting to plan for the possibility of a future asteroid impact. The group includes representatives of spacefaring nations and other pertinent organizations.
One key goal of SMPAG is to promote opportunities for international collaboration on research and techniques for asteroid deflection.
Once established, IAWN and SMPAG will be independent of the UN and will only inform the UN's Scientific and Technical Subcommittee on a yearly basis on the work that they carry out.
While the UN has not taken any bureaucratic steps, the recommendations for an international response to an asteroid impact threat — which are leading to the establishment of IAWN and SMPAG — were made by inter-governmental bodies after years of considering interim reports prepared by Action Team-14, reports by national governments and international organizations and statements and technical presentations made during consideration by the UN's Scientific and Technical Subcommittee regarding NEOs.
Here’s Your Chance To Send A Message To An Asteroid
by Elizabeth Howell September 2, 2014
NASA is planning to launch a time capsule aboard the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft, which is expected to head to an asteroid in 2016. Credit: Heather Roper/University of Arizona/OSIRIS-REx
What’s your vision for solar system exploration? And how cool would it be to send it literally into the solar system?
NASA is offering its fans the chance to compose a tweet or send a picture showing how we can step out into the cosmos. The best ones among these will be placed aboard a spacecraft that will zoom to an asteroid in 2016.
The “time capsule” will be placed aboard the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx). If all goes to plan, it will meet with the asteroid Bennu in 2019, pick up a sample and then return it to Earth in 2023.
And by the way, you can also send your name to Bennu via this form (a joint initiative of NASA and the Planetary Society.) Seems a good chance to get your name off of Earth, until the time when space travel becomes affordable to ordinary citizens.
Get Ready for Sunday’s Close Flyby of Asteroid 2014 RC
by Bob King September 4, 2014
This graphic depicts the passage of asteroid 2014 RC past Earth on September 7, 2014. At time of closest approach, the space rock will be about one-tenth the distance from Earth to the moon. Based on brightness, astronomers estimate the asteroids’s size at 60 feet. Times indicated on the graphic are EDT or Eastern Daylight Time. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Guess who’s dropping by for a quick visit this weekend? On Sunday, a 60-foot-wide (20-meters) asteroid named 2014 RC will skim just 25,000 miles (40,000 km) from Earth. That’s within spitting distance of all those geosynchronous communication and weather satellites orbiting at 22,300 miles.
Size-wise, this one’s similar to the Chelyabinsk meteorite that exploded over Russia’s Ural Mountains region in February 2013. But it’s a lot less scary. 2014 RC will cleanly miss Earth this time around, and although it’s expected back in the future, no threatening passes have been identified. Whew!
NEOs or Near Earth Asteroids are defined as space rocks that come within about 28 million miles of Earth’s orbit. Nearly once a month astronomers discover an Earth-crossing asteroid that passes within the moon’s orbit. In spite of hype and hoopla, none has threatened the planet. As of February 2014, we know of 10,619 near-Earth asteroids. It’s estimated that 93% of all NEOs larger than 1 km have been discovered but 99% of the estimated 1 million NEOs 100 feet (30-meters) still remain at large. No surprise then that new ones pop up routinely in sky surveys. Take this past Sunday night for example, when the Catalina Sky Survey nabbed 2014 RA, a 20-foot (6-meter) space rock that whistled past Earth that evening at 33,500 miles (54,000 km). It’s now long gone.
by Tanya Lewis, LiveScience Staff Writer September 17, 2014
WAIMEA, Hawaii — In the 1998 movie "Armageddon," an asteroid the size of Texas threatens to collide with Earth in 18 days. To save the planet from destruction, a ragtag team of deep-sea oil drillers volunteers to divert the massive space rock by burying a nuclear bomb beneath its surface and blasting it into two pieces that will fly past Earth.
But despite its entertainment value, the film is fantastically inaccurate, said astronomer Phil Plait, who writes the "Bad Astronomy" blog on Slate.com.
"Don't go to Hollywood for advice on how to deal with an asteroid," Plait told a small but packed audience here Saturday (Sept. 13) at HawaiiCon, a science, sci-fi and fantasy convention on the Island of Hawaii. The three-day convention featured talks and events with celebrities from popular sci-fi TV series, as well as experts on space and astronomy. [Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth]
During his talk, Plait showed a clip from "Armageddon" in which Bruce Willis' character struggles to detonate the bomb, by hand, before the asteroid smacks into Earth and destroys all life.
"There are more mistakes in that clip than video frames," Plait said. In order to blow up an asteroid the size of the one in the film, the bomb would have to explode with the same amount of energy as that produced by the sun, he said.
Even if you could make such a weapon, "it would be way more dangerous than the asteroid itself." What's more, now you don't just have an asteroid — you have a radioactive asteroid, he said.
But while real-life science in "Armageddon" fails miserably, you can find much more accurate science in the similarly plotted film "Deep Impact," also released in 1998, Plait said. In that movie, a teenage amateur astronomer discovers a 7-mile-wide (11 kilometers) comet on a path that will smash into Earth in two years.
As in "Armageddon," humanity sends a team of people to the space rock to destroy it with a nuclear weapon, but this time, the blast needed is much smaller, and the fragments produced by the explosion still end up heading for Earth. One of the pieces plunges into the Atlantic Ocean, generating a mega tsunami that floods Manhattan and many major coastlines, a scenario that is actually pretty accurate, Plait said.
But even "Deep Impact" gets some things wrong. The asteroid mission sends a spaceship to blow up the other comet chunk, producing fragments that burn up harmlessly in Earth's atmosphere instead of causing deadly impacts — not a very likely scenario, Plait said.
How Sending Humans to an Asteroid Would Work (Infographic)
by Karl Tate, SPACE.com Infographics Artist October 29, 2014
NASA’s current asteroid-redirect mission plan calls for a robotic probe to capture a small asteroid (or one boulder from a large space rock) in deep space and tow it back to lunar orbit, where it would be visited eventually by astronauts. But another proposal advocated in an October 2014 editorial in the journal Nature would fly a crew directly to a near-Earth asteroid, or NEA, in its native orbit.
If the ultimate goal is a mission to Mars, a NEA in its native orbit provides more experience in operating long-duration missions in deep space, says the editorial's author, MIT professor Richard Binzel. NASA’s proposed asteroid redirect mission would not take crews much farther than they’ve already been: the moon.
A manned flight to a NEA would take weeks or months, as opposed to NASA's redirect plan, which would only involve astronauts flying in space for days.
The first step toward visiting a NEA should be undertaking a comprehensive search for close-flying space rocks, Binzel says. Such a survey would find thousands of potential astronaut destinations that could serve as "stepping stones" to Mars, and would also identify many space rocks that could pose a threat to Earth down the road.
Asteroids are small, airless rocky worlds revolving around the sun that are too small to be called planets. They are also known as planetoids or minor planets. In total, the mass of all the asteroids is less than that of Earth's moon. But despite their size, asteroids can be dangerous. Many have hit Earth in the past, and more will crash into our planet in the future. That's one reason scientists study asteroids and are eager to learn more about their numbers, orbits and physical characteristics. If an asteroid is headed our way, we want to know that.
Most asteroids lie in a vast ring between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. This main asteroid belt holds more than 200 asteroids larger than 60 miles (100 kilometers) in diameter. Scientists estimate the asteroid belt also contains more than 750,000 asteroids larger than three-fifths of a mile (1 km) in diameter and millions of smaller ones. Not everything in the main belt is an asteroid — for instance, comets have recently been discovered there, and Ceres, once thought of only as an asteroid, is now also considered a dwarf planet.
Many asteroids lie outside the main belt. For instance, a number of asteroids called Trojans lie along Jupiter's orbital path. Three groups — Atens, Amors, and Apollos — known as near-Earth asteroids orbit in the inner solar system and sometimes cross the path of Mars and Earth.
Asteroids are leftovers from the formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. Early on, the birth of Jupiter prevented any planetary bodies from forming in the gap between Mars and Jupiter, causing the small objects that were there to collide with each other and fragment into the asteroids seen today.
Astronauts, scientists, Nobel laureates, technologists, and artists to announce Asteroid Awareness Day
Posted by David Eicher Monday, December 01, 2014
Leading experts in astronomy, cosmology, physics, and entertainment will hold a simultaneous press conference in London and San Francisco on December 3 to announce Asteroid Day — a global day of awareness to educate the world about asteroids: what they are, how frequently they impact Earth, and how we can protect our planet and humanity from potential disasters. Asteroid Day will be held June 30, 2015, with events around the world hosted by individuals and organizations, at schools, museums, community and science centers, via film and entertainment.
Also to be released at the press conference will be a 100x Asteroid Declaration, signed by noted scientists, business leaders, educators, and entertainers. The declaration calls for the rapid hundredfold acceleration of the discovery and tracking of near-Earth objects (NEOs).
The UK and U.S. press conference will be linked via video between the London Science Museum and California Academy of Sciences.
'Asteroid Day' to Raise Awareness of Space Rock Threat / June 30, 2015
by Mike Wall, Space.com Senior Writer December 03, 2014
An artist's depiction of a hazardous near-Earth asteroid. Credit: ESA/P. Carril
SAN FRANCISCO — Humanity can dramatically reduce its frightening vulnerability to cataclysmic asteroid strikes with just a little extra funding and a little extra effort.
That's the main message of "Asteroid Day," an educational campaign that launched today (Dec. 3) at a joint news conference held both here at the California Academy of Sciences and in London. Asteroid Day aims to raise awareness of the threats posed by space rocks and eventually help boost the rate of near-Earth asteroid discovery by a factor of 100.
"We need all nations to cooperate," said astrophysicist bob May, who is also a founding member and lead guitarist of the rock band Queen. "This is not just an American problem or a British problem; this is a world problem which is avertable. That's our message." [Potentially Dangerous Asteroids (Images)]
The campaign wants the world to mark Asteroid Day on June 30, 2015, the 107th anniversary of the "Tunguska event." On June 30, 1908, a near-Earth object (NEO) thought to be about 130 feet (40 meters) wide exploded above the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Siberia, destroying 800 square miles (2,072 square kilometers) of forest.
"If that event had taken place 6 1/2 hours later, Berlin would have rotated into the object's path, and that would have utterly changed the course of human civilization," said Bill Nye, former TV "Science Guy" and CEO of the nonprofit Planetary Society, who joined today's news conference via videoconference from New York.
A series of events organized by individuals and groups around the world will take place on June 30 of next year to mark the anniversary, Asteroid Day organizers said.
Fear Not: Quarter-Mile Asteroid Is No Threat To Earth, NASA Says
by Elizabeth Howell December 9, 2014
Three classes of asteroids that pass near Earth or cross its orbit are named for the first member discovered — Apollo, Aten and Amor. Apollo asteroids like 2014 SC324 routinely cross Earth’s orbit, Atens also cross but have different orbital characteristics and Amors cross Mars’ orbit but miss Earth’s. Credit: ESA
Before assuming an asteroid is going to kill us all, take a deep breath and open up the NASA’s Near Earth Object (NEO) program website to check your information, the agency suggests in a statement regarding a so-called threatening asteroid making the rounds in media reports.
Data from the Minor Planet Center shows that the quarter-mile-wide asteroid 2014 UR116 won’t pose a threat to Earth or any other planet in the next 150 years or more, the agency said.
“Some recent press reports have suggested that an asteroid designated 2014 UR116, found on October 27, 2014, at the MASTER-II observatory in Kislovodsk, Russia, represents an impact threat to the Earth,” NASA wrote, assumedly referring to publications such as this one in Russia.
“While this approximately 400-meter sized asteroid has a three-year orbital period around the sun and returns to the Earth’s neighborhood periodically, it does not represent a threat because its orbital path does not pass sufficiently close to the Earth’s orbit … Any statements about risk for impact of discovered asteroids and comets should be verified by scientists and the media by accessing NASA’s Near Earth Object (NEO) program web site.”
Is NASA losing faith in its own Asteroid Redirect Mission?
By Graham Templeton Jan. 12, 2015
Back when NASA first floated the idea of an Asteroid Redirect Mission, the general reaction was to scoff. NASA’s willing to talk about some pretty out-there ideas these days, from space elevators to warp drives, and it was assumed that this was just another really-really-well educated guess at something that might not be possible until four or five iPhone generations from now. But NASA doggedly insisted that this was a real possibility, kept on that their planning was concrete, their timelines solid.
What began as a mission to grab a deep space asteroid and haul it into Earth orbit was side-graded to become a mission to divert a much smaller near-Earth asteroid into a Lunar orbit. Well, on Thursday NASA’s Lindley Johnson said that the agency doesn’t even see asteroid redirection as a firm requirement for success, seeming to try to prepare the public for the idea that ARM is really just a $1.25 billion engine test robot.
That’s the actual goal of the redirect mission, apparently: to test the solar ion propulsion systems that will be used to send ships to Mars. These are extremely low-powered engines that apply constant thrust over long periods of time, and because they use primarily energy collected from the Sun, their onboard fuel sources can last a very long time. With multiple engines running nonstop for weeks or months, they can accelerate a ship to very high speeds — though they’ll take just as long to slow it down again at the destination.
These have been the assumed power behind an actual asteroid redirection, since it wouldn’t be possible to get the necessary volume of liquid fuel all the way to the rock. If the solar engines work, NASA will view the mission as a success — but I’m not sure how the engines could work, and we don’t end up with the asteroid they were supposed to acquire for us. If we don’t have the asteroid, wouldn’t something have to have failed, by definition?
What Can We Do If an Asteroid Threatens Earth? Europe Starts Planning
by Elizabeth Howell, SPACE.com Contributor January 13, 2015
Trail of the object that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013. Credit: Alex Alishevskikh
What should humanity do the next time a space rock threatens Earth? European officials recently spent two days figuring out possible ways to respond to such a scenario, with the aim of drawing up effective procedures before the danger actually materializes.
The first-of-its-kind simulation considered what to do if an asteroid similar to, or larger than, the one that exploded over Russia in February 2013 — which was about 62 feet (19 meters) wide — came close to Earth. Officials focused on activities ranging from 30 days to 1 hour before a potential impact.
"There are a large number of variables to consider in predicting the effects and damage from any asteroid impact, making simulations such as these very complex," Detlef Koschny, head of near-Earth-object activities at the European Space Agency's Space Situational Awareness office, said in a statement. [Potentially Dangerous Asteroids (Images)]
"These include the size, mass, speed, composition and impact angle," he added. "Nonetheless, this shouldn't stop Europe from developing a comprehensive set of measures that could be taken by national civil authorities, which can be general enough to accommodate a range of possible effects."
January 27, 2015 Big asteroid that skimmed Earth has its own moon, NASA says
An unusually large asteroid that just skimmed by Earth had its own moon, NASA said Tuesday as the US space agency released its first radar images of the flyby.
The asteroid known as 2004 BL86 made its closest approach late Monday at a distance about three times further than Earth's own Moon.
Radar images from NASA's Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, California show that the asteroid itself was about 500 feet (150 meters) smaller than expected, and measured about 1,100 feet (325 meters) across.
The asteroid's small moon was approximately 230 feet (70 meters) across.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield called the discovery "strangely delightful," and wondered on Twitter: "Who gets to name it?"
The asteroid was already unusual because it was about 10 times bigger than most near-Earth objects, which range from 50 to 100 feet (15 to 30 meters) in diameter.
NASA said that about 16 percent of asteroids in 2004 BL86's size category—meaning those that are 655 feet (200 meters) or larger—are "binary," meaning there is a primary asteroid with a smaller asteroid moon orbiting it.
UFO sighting: Alien spacecraft- not moon- passed by with asteroid, site says
By Marcus Hondro January 31, 2014
NASA has released information on asteroid 2014 BL86, which passed by Earth on Monday, but at least one group is not buying it. The object orbiting around the asteroid is a moon, NASA claimed, but some UFO trackers say that is not the case.
UFO Sightings: "Diamond shaped and flat"
The site UFO Sightings Daily, which has over 22,000,000 page views and counting, has examined photos of the asteroid and the object that accompanied it. They wrote that the object was not shaped like a moon but shaped like an alien spacecraft, a craft that had control over how it moved through space. "This asteroid has a UFO flying in orbit around it. We can see from the detailed photo that the craft is diamond shaped and flat," UFO Sightings Daily (USD) writes about the 'moon'. "NASA of course goes on to say that this flat object which does not flip over end is a moon. Wrong! "Any moon this thin would be tumbling end over end. This object is keeping itself steady, flying like a ship would in space." NASA's statement on the object hovering around the half-a-kilometer wide asteroid was considerably different, maintaining that it is a moon in a regular orbit around the asteroid and that such a phenomena is a common occurrence. "In the near-Earth population, about 16 percent of asteroids that are about 655 feet or larger are a binary (the primary asteroid with a smaller asteroid moon orbiting it) or even triple systems (two moons)," NASA said.
All right, sure – there are a lot of asteroids that don’t hit us. And of course quite a few that do… Earth is impacted by around 100 tons of space debris every day (although that oft-stated estimate is still being researched.) But on March 10, 2015, a 12–28 meter asteroid dubbed 2015 ET cosmically “just missed us,” zipping past Earth at 0.3 lunar distances – 115,200 kilometers, or 71, 580 miles.*
The video above shows the passage of 2015 ET across the sky on the night of March 11–12, tracked on camera from the Crni Vrh Observatory in Slovenia. It’s a time-lapse video (the time is noted along the bottom) so the effect is really neat to watch the asteroid “racing along” in front of the stars… but then, it was traveling a relative 12.4 km/second!
UPDATE 3/14: As it turns out the object in the video above is not 2015 ET; it is a still-undesignated NEO. (My original source had noted this incorrectly as well.) Regardless, it was an almost equally close pass not 24 hours after 2015 ET’s! Double tap. (ht to Gerald in the comments.)
The description on the video reads:
The asteroid starts as tiny dot just below the centre of the right image and drifts gradually downwards. Due to a software glitch a correction which was meant to bring it back to the centre was not applied and the asteroid was subsequently lost. Nevertheless, the telescope kept tracking at the rate of the asteroid movement, just to illustrate the effect of sky motion. Towards the end, when the asteroid would be too faint again, the clouds rolled in and the observations were terminated. (Source: YouTube)
This subway-car-sized space rock didn’t impact Earth (obviously) on this trip around the Sun and won’t on any of its more distant passes during its 2.9-year orbit in the foreseeable future. And even if it had, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world – but we certainly would have known about it, especially if it had been over a populated area. Based on its size, even without knowing composition, I’m making an uneducated guess of a Chelyabinsk-sized impact event. That didn’t happen.
Learn more about 2015 ET’s parameters here, and see more night sky videos from the Crni Vrh Observatory here.
*Technically the time of closest approach for 2015 ET was 16:42 UTC on March 10.
We can’t just go into space with a big butterfly net or catcher’s mitt, so how in the world could we capture an asteroid?
Ah asteroids, those dinosaur-killing, Scrooge-McDuck-moneybins from heaven.
They’re great and all, but you know what would be better? All the asteroids gathered up and put in a nice safe orbit where we harvest out all their precious sweet, juicy platinum cores.
Instead of nervously scanning the heavens, wishing we had more iridium at our disposal, we could seek out all the asteroids in the Solar System and push them somewhere we can get at them, whenever we want after we dump them into the orbital equivalent of a lazy susan.
Okay fine, instead of pushing all the asteroids around, maybe we should start with one. Get that right and we can extend our plans to the rest of the delicious space rocks we crave.
I know this sounds like just another pie in the sky “Fraser-Cain-double-plus-crazy” plan, but I’m not the only one to propose this idea. In fact, NASA has expressed plans to reach out and capture an asteroid and maybe put it into orbit around Earth.
There are many benefits to this plan. We’ll learn just how hard it is to move asteroids around, should we find one on a dangerous trajectory. We’ll learn how to land on an asteroid, and extract its precious resources. And of course, there’s the science. So much to learn from a pet asteroid. Also, if anyone ticks us off we can lop off clumps and hurl it at them. So a dinosaur killing space rock, returned safely to Earth? That sounds a little dangerous. Possibly a species-wide Darwin awards moment.
"This is an exciting time for the Osiris-Rex team," mission principal investigator Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona said in a statement. "After almost four years of intense design efforts, we are now proceeding with the start of flight-system assembly. I am grateful for the hard work and team effort required to get us to this point." [NASA's Osiris-Rex Mission in Pictures] ( www.space.com/20920-nasa-osiris-rex-asteroid-mission-photos.html )
Lockheed Martin technicians in a clean room facility near Denver assembled NASA's OSIRIS-Rex asteroid-sampling spacecraft.
Osiris-Rex, whose name is short for Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer, is scheduled to launch in September 2016. If all goes according to plan, the robotic probe will rendezvous with a 1,650-foot-wide (500 meters) asteroid named Bennu in 2018, grab at least 2.1 ounces (60 grams) of space rock material and bring the sample back to Earth in 2023.
The mission aims to shed light on the solar system's early days and how Earth came to possess the carbon-containing building blocks of life, NASA officials have said. Bennu is a potentially hazardous asteroid, so Osiris-Rex could also have planetary-defense applications.
Osiris-Rex's just-met milestone, called Key Decision Point-D (KDP-D), is a type that comes after a series of independent reviews into a mission's finances, schedule and technical aspects.
Close Encounter of the Asteroid Kind – 2015 HD1 Skims By Earth Tonight
by Bob King April 20, 2015
If you wake up in the middle of the night with weird dreams about flying asteroids, I wouldn’t be surprised. Around 3 a.m. (CDT) tomorrow morning April 21, a 50-foot-wide asteroid will hurdle just 0.2 lunar distances or 45,600 miles over your bed.
The Mt. Lemmon Survey, based in Tucson, Arizona, snagged the space rock Saturday. 2015 HD1 is about as big as a full grown T-rex through not nearly as scary, since it will safely miss Earth … but not by much.
Geostationary satellites, used for global communications, weather forecasting and satellite TV, are parked in orbits about 22,300 miles above the Earth. 2015 HD1 will zip by at just twice that distance, putting it in a more select group of extremely close-approaching objects. Yet given its small size, even if it were to collide with Earth, this dino-sized rock would probably break up into a shower of meteorites.
Lucky for all of us, astronomers conducting photographic surveys like the one at Mt. Lemmon rake the skies every clear night, turning up a dozen or more generally small, Earth-approaching asteroids every month. None yet has been found on a collision course with Earth, but many pass within a few lunar distances.
A common misunderstanding about approaching asteroids concerns Earth’s gravity. While our planet has plenty of gravitational pull, it’s no match for speedy asteroids. We can’t “pull” them in like some tractor beam.
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.
“Often, these agencies focus on their own pieces of the puzzle, so anything that brings them together is a good thing,” said Bruce Betts, director of science and technology at the Planetary Society, a nonprofit group that promotes space exploration.
Comets and asteroids are part of the cosmic rubble left over from the birth of the solar system. Comets, made of dirty ice, visit Earth’s neighborhood only when knocked loose from their home orbits beyond Pluto. That makes their movement somewhat unpredictable. Asteroids, made of rock, fly mostly in a belt between Mars and Jupiter. Their orbits can be calculated with great precision if astronomers can spot the dim objects.
Rocky debris rains down steadily on Earth, mostly as dust grains and tiny pebbles. But every once in a while a tumbling giant, miles wide, such as the one thought to have done in the dinosaurs, zooms past the planet.
In 2013, this extraterrestrial threat gained new credibility after a 7,000-ton rock — roughly 60 feet wide and technically a meteoroid, smaller than an asteroid — exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, injuring 1,500 people, mainly as shards flew from shattered windows. The dazzling light from the rocky intruder blinded eyes and burned skin even though the temperature that day was far below freezing.
The two agencies — NASA and the National Nuclear Security Administration — have long studied such threats on their own. They have surveyed the cosmic debris, designed rocket interceptors and run supercomputer simulations to see if a nuclear blast could nudge a large asteroid off course.
'Trillion-Dollar Asteroid' Zooms by Earth as Scientists Watch (Video)
by Elizabeth Howell, Space.com Contributor July 28, 2015
These three separate radar images of asteroid 2011 UW158 show how the asteroid was tumbling as it flew by Earth on July 19, 2015. Credit: Courtesy of the NAIC - Arecibo Observatory, a facility of the NSF
When an asteroid packed with about $5 trillion worth of platinum zoomed past Earth this month scientists were ready, capturing the space rock on radar as it sailed safely by our planet.
The asteroid 2011 UW158 missed Earth by about 1.5 million miles (2.4 million kilometers) — a little more than six times the distance between the planet and the moon — during its flyby on July 19. There was never a chance of a collision during the flyby, researchers said. But it was close enough for NASA scientists to create a video of the asteroid from radar observations.
The near-Earth asteroid is an intriguing candidate for mining, said representatives of the company Planetary Resources, which is hoping to begin these activities in the coming decades. (On July 16, Planetary Resources' Arkyd 3 Reflight spacecraft was deployed from the International Space Station to test software, control systems and avionics that could be used for asteroid hunting.) [Asteroid Mining: Planetary Resources Plan in Pictures]
Previous studies by Planetary Resources estimated that 2011 UW158 contains about $5.4 trillion worth of platinum, an element that is rare on Earth.
Artist’s depiction of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Credit: David Minton and Renu Malhotra
4.6 billion years ago, our Solar System formed from a collection of gas and dust surrounding our nascent Sun. While much of the gas and dust in this protoplanetary disk coalesced to form the planets, some of the debris was left over.
Some of debris was shattered remnants of planetesimals – bodies within the young Sun’s solar nebula that never grew large enough to become planets, and scientists theorize that large collisions in the early, chaotic Solar System pulverized these planetesimals into smaller pieces. Other debris never came together due to the massive gravitational pull from Jupiter.
These rocky remnants are now the asteroids that travel about our Solar System. Since these “leftovers” contain clues about the early days of our Solar System, scientists are eager to study them.
Definition of an Asteroid
Asteroids are rocky, metallic bodies that orbit the Sun. They are made from different kinds of rock and metals, with the metals being mostly nickel and iron. They are sometimes called “minor planets” but they are much, much smaller than the planets or moons. They don’t have atmospheres, but about 150 asteroids are known to have small “moons” orbiting them, and some even have two moons. There are also binary (double) asteroids, where two rocky bodies of roughly equal size orbit each other, as well as triple asteroid systems.
At least one asteroid has rings. This surprise discovery was made in 2013 when scientist watched Asteroid Chariklo pass in front of a star. The asteroid made the background star “blink” several times, which led to the discovery that two rings are surrounding the asteroid. solarsystem.nasa.gov/404/
The asteroids of the inner Solar System and Jupiter: The donut-shaped asteroid belt is located between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars. Credit: Wikipedia Commons
Big, 'Spooky' Asteroid to Fly by Earth on Halloween
by Mike Wall, Space.com Senior Writer October 21, 2015
An asteroid the size of a football stadium will zoom past Earth on Halloween, in a close encounter that astronomers view as far more treat than trick.
The massive asteroid 2015 TB145 will come within 310,000 miles (500,000 kilometers) of the planet — or about 1.3 times the distance from Earth to the moon — on the afternoon of Oct. 31, just three weeks after the space rock was discovered, according to NASA. There's no threat of an impact on this pass, NASA officials said.
Astronomers estimate the diameter of 2015 TB145, which is also known as "Spooky," to be between 950 feet and 2,130 feet (290 to 650 meters). The Halloween flyby will mark the closest known encounter with such a big asteroid until August 2027, researchers said. [Potentially Dangerous Asteroids (Images)]
Scientists based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, plan to observe 2015 TB145 on Halloween using radio dishes at the space agency's Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California, as well as the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, and possibly the huge Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
"The flyby presents a truly outstanding scientific opportunity to study the physical properties of this object," the researchers wrote in an online observing plan.
spotless38: Iam back after a long break . What a couple of years I had . After what had happened I lost my brother and had to bury him and then I had caught that type A flue and I was a very sick puppy I also needed blood for the loss of it .
Jul 7, 2018 13:30:41 GMT -6
lois: Very Happy to see you Ron. Missed you. Glad you are doing better now. Sorry for your lost. I did not know your brother had passed. hugs lois
Jul 10, 2018 0:52:45 GMT -6
paulette: Ron - hope you've hit a quiet spot. Sorry for your loss.
Aug 3, 2018 10:49:30 GMT -6
lois: I picked up my phone a few days ago and I looked at the name of the caller. Boy was I surprise. It has been a couple of years. So good to hear your voice Ron. Hope you make it a habit again. love and hugs .
Aug 15, 2018 23:21:38 GMT -6
leia77: Spotless, I am glad that you are feeling better and welcome back! I too am back from a long time away...
Aug 31, 2018 2:08:32 GMT -6
jcurio: I am much relieved to see that you have been on here, Spotless! I hope that things are going much better for you now
Sept 19, 2018 16:46:42 GMT -6
jcurio: And Lois, And Lorelei!
Sept 19, 2018 16:47:07 GMT -6
casper: And Meeeeeee!!
Oct 16, 2018 18:41:31 GMT -6
lois: Sorry guys I cannot see the print. On is tiny hand computer
Oct 21, 2018 20:42:09 GMT -6
lois: Casper your page stops at page five in 2016
Nov 15, 2018 23:54:01 GMT -6
lois: How did your Halloween night go this year?
Nov 15, 2018 23:54:58 GMT -6
skywalker: He posted on the Halloween thread this year.
Nov 25, 2018 18:33:36 GMT -6
lois: Oh ok Sky I will check it out. Thanks.
Dec 21, 2018 21:45:31 GMT -6
lois: What topic was it under.
Dec 21, 2018 21:51:07 GMT -6