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Fifty Meter Asteroid Might Hit Earth In 2098

CmdrTaco posted about 4 years ago | from the warn-your-grandkids dept.

Earth 295

eldavojohn writes "The Bad Astronomer brings word of an asteroid discovered with a tiny chance of hitting Earth. While it's only 50 meters wide, it could have the impact of a 20 megaton bomb. It's still twenty million miles away so if it hits us, it won't happen until 2098. The real story here is how a remarkable telescope, dubbed Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System, that went operational in May found its first potential target in our growing impact alert system for Earth."

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i'll be dead (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33725780)

don't care.. sorry..

Re:i'll be dead (4, Funny)

grub (11606) | about 4 years ago | (#33725812)


Fuck you. I'll be 133 years old hooked up to machines and tubes.
I CARE

Re:i'll be dead (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 4 years ago | (#33726070)

Too bad - you are boned.

Re:i'll be dead (5, Funny)

soloport (312487) | about 4 years ago | (#33726570)

I CARE TOO This asteroid has been poised for millions of years, ready to strike Earth in 2098, and the story has made it to /. just now? Come on editors!

Re:i'll be dead (1)

srk2040 (973509) | about 4 years ago | (#33726106)

Stem cell baby stem cell or you'll get a whole new cloned guts that will replace ur existing gut.

Re:i'll be dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33726380)

Same here or frozen.....

Re:i'll be dead (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#33726472)

In that case you'll appreciate the meteorite putting you out of your misery.

Re:i'll be dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33726560)

"Get that asteroid off my lawn!"

And... (2, Insightful)

WED Fan (911325) | about 4 years ago | (#33725904)

IPv4 address should run out by then, or not, things will be hotter, or colder, social security may have crashed, or not, the USA will be a socialist nightmare, or not, God will make a sudden appearance, or not, and the Beatles may reunite, or not.

Re:And... (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 4 years ago | (#33726180)

Yup. IPv4 addys alone are enough to cause chaos the likes of which we've not seen since the riot scene on "Airplane!", scary stuff.

Re:And... (1)

BiggoronSword (1135013) | about 4 years ago | (#33726184)

... and the Beatles may reunite, or not.

My money is on not.

Re:And... (1)

networkBoy (774728) | about 4 years ago | (#33726246)

... and the ZOMBIE Beatles may reunite, or not.

Happy now?

No problem, send in a driller (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33725786)

We can always send Bruce Willis

Re:No problem, send in a driller (4, Funny)

AvitarX (172628) | about 4 years ago | (#33725826)

Well, Bruce Willis' head in a jar at least.

Key Words: (5, Insightful)

Rip Dick (1207150) | about 4 years ago | (#33725788)

"...might... ...tiny chance... ...could... ...if..."

Re:Key Words: (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33726056)

But if it does hit, it is nearly certain that most of the people alive now won't be alive after the impact. Oh the humanity!

Mod parent up (1)

amazeofdeath (1102843) | about 4 years ago | (#33726126)

Absolutely right, emphasis on the tiny chance. Where are my mod points...

Re:Key Words: (1)

timlyg (266415) | about 4 years ago | (#33726294)

constipation

Re:Key Words: (1)

curtix7 (1429475) | about 4 years ago | (#33726514)

OMG, here, have all of this funding!

How can it destroy the Earth? (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 4 years ago | (#33725790)

When my Mayan calendar runs out in just a few short months?

"Bomb the rubble", Mr. Asteroid!

Re:How can it destroy the Earth? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33725930)

Let's see,

Take the year 2098... subtract the left wing anti-Christ(43)... subtract the right wing anti-Christ(44)... carry the asteroid(1)...

2012!!! THE MAYANS WERE RIGHT!!!!

Re:How can it destroy the Earth? (1)

Kenja (541830) | about 4 years ago | (#33725934)

Much the same way the Mayans cant be right because my Far Side calendar ends mid Jan 2011.

Re:How can it destroy the Earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33726422)

It's the Mayan Y2K, man. All my Mayan software will stop working. I don't see how this is a laughing matter.

Re:How can it destroy the Earth? (4, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33726014)

I'm eligible for retirement in 2012, so the world as I know it will surely end. Don't know about the rest of you guys, though. More importantley...

Our calendar ends on Dec 31st of THIS YEAR! WE'RE ALL DOOMED!

Rush Limbaugh Might Become U.S. "President" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33725792)

Think about it;

An entertainer as U.S. President [youtube.com] .

Yours In Moscow,
K. Trout

Re:Rush Limbaugh Might Become U.S. "President" (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 4 years ago | (#33726094)

We've had one. Ronald Reagan.

And the discussion is about an Asteroid, Limbaugh will be dead by 2098 so who cares?

Re:Rush Limbaugh Might Become U.S. "President" (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#33726528)

And every president since has been more showman than leader.

You gotta love this guy. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 years ago | (#33725796)

I mean, optimism at it's finest.

The good news here... let me correct myself: the great news here is that Pan-STARRS found this thing at all! From that distance, an object this small is really hard to see, and no other asteroid survey could've found it. That means that as time goes on, Pan-STARRS will find lots and lots of threatening objects.

(emphasis mine)

He's going to be a lot of fun at parties towards the end of 2012 ...

Re:You gotta love this guy. (2, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | about 4 years ago | (#33726008)

How you measure the unknown? It IS optimist, saying that we now finally have tools to start discovering this kind of threats. Anyway, that we are getting aware that things could get close don't mean that anything will hit us (in last century nothing similar to that size, so odds should be pretty low).

Well... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33725802)

Thankfully most of us will be dead by then.

Re:Well... (4, Insightful)

Chowderbags (847952) | about 4 years ago | (#33725902)

Steamboat Willie will still be copyrighted.

Re:Well... (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 4 years ago | (#33726066)

Which would be a good reason to nuke it from orbit. Only way of making sure this copyright disease doesn't spread.

Re:Well... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 years ago | (#33726284)

Steamboat Willie will still be copyrighted.

I don't know if I should laugh or cry about that. :-P

Re:Well... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#33726414)

Yes, but this could damage the giant pyramid I've commanded my wife to build in my honor upon my death. Therefore it must be stopped at all costs.

Take action Now! (2, Funny)

jdgeorge (18767) | about 4 years ago | (#33725810)

First, let's figure out what this "Nature" is and what it wants. Then, let's stop it in its tracks!

Re:Take action Now! (1)

WED Fan (911325) | about 4 years ago | (#33725972)

Screw that, enough talk, nuke nature now. For our children. Think of the children.

Re:Take action Now! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 years ago | (#33726550)

Screw that, enough talk, nuke nature now.

I see what you did there.

Nothing new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33725822)

Everyone gets their panties in a wad over this type of thing every few months. Why are we worrying about something with an infinitesimal chance of actually happening almost a century from now?

Re:Nothing new... (2, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 4 years ago | (#33726108)

It's this kind of short-term thinking that will result in the destruction of the human race.

Who will save us? (5, Funny)

Manos_Of_Fate (1092793) | about 4 years ago | (#33725824)

We'd better freeze Bruce Willis, just to be sure.

Re:Who will save us? (4, Funny)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | about 4 years ago | (#33725858)

We better freeze the members of Aerosmith as well, otherwise he won't have epic tracks to listen to on his way to the asteroid.

We're all dead ! We're all gonna die! (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | about 4 years ago | (#33725830)

Now about that asteroid, sounds like a problem! Quite a pickle.

Re:We're all dead ! We're all gonna die! (1)

lowrydr310 (830514) | about 4 years ago | (#33726196)

I'd rather an asteroid than a hemorrhoid.

Good news!!!!!!!! (2, Funny)

GPLDAN (732269) | about 4 years ago | (#33725836)

If we launch Rosie O'Donnell into orbit now, her gravitational pull will divert it away! Yay!

Re:Good news!!!!!!!! (2, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | about 4 years ago | (#33726150)

Yeah, but think about all the flooding from the tidal changes!

Re:Good news!!!!!!!! (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | about 4 years ago | (#33726352)

How the hell do we launch something that big, I didn't think our rockets had that kind of lift capacity?

Re:Good news!!!!!!!! (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | about 4 years ago | (#33726498)

How the hell do we launch something that big, I didn't think our rockets had that kind of lift capacity?

Much like African Swallows, you need a couple rockets and a string...

UPDATE ALERT LEVEL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33725848)

TO BLACK-WATCH PLAID!

I initially read this as... (0, Offtopic)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | about 4 years ago | (#33725892)

Fifty Meteor Asteroid's Might Hit Earth In 2098

2098 (1)

zombieChan51 (1862028) | about 4 years ago | (#33725908)

I hope by that time we have an army of Super Soilders in Iron Man Suits that could take care of that nasty asteroid.

Re:2098 (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | about 4 years ago | (#33726372)

But Tony won't let the Air Force have the plans, what a wet blanket he is.

Is it REALLY that bad? (2, Informative)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | about 4 years ago | (#33725946)

BA:

An impact by something like that is about the same as exploding a 20 megaton bomb.

So yeah, bad.

Wiki [wikipedia.org] :

The largest nuclear weapon ever tested was the "Tsar Bomba" of the Soviet Union at Novaya Zemlya on October 30, 1961, with an estimated yield of around 50 megatons.

So this impact would be 40% of the Soviet test. How badly did the Soviet test harm the Earth?

Re:Is it REALLY that bad? (2, Insightful)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | about 4 years ago | (#33725988)

Well, for one thing they never tested in the middle of a heavily populated area, if the stone should choose to fall in a city and not the ocean. A bigger concern would be if said explosion happened in a nation with a paranoid dictator who lets the nukes fly because he thinks he's under attack, cascading into everyone following suit.

Re:Is it REALLY that bad? (2, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 4 years ago | (#33726172)

3% of the Earth's surface is urban area, so chances are it won't hit a heavily populated area.

Re:Is it REALLY that bad? (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | about 4 years ago | (#33726202)

I was thinking about that, too.

The odds are (~70%), it will hit in an ocean somewhere. It would create one some-bitch tsunami. So, if it smacks down in the Atlantic, we can kiss all the cities on the Atlantic coast good-bye?

Re:Is it REALLY that bad? (3, Funny)

wjousts (1529427) | about 4 years ago | (#33726310)

By 2098 it'll probably be more like 85% of the Earth covered in water. By the coastal city of Denver will be under a tsunami watch just in case.

Re:Is it REALLY that bad? (3, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 4 years ago | (#33726366)

20MT in the sea? No it really won't do much in the way of tsunamis.

FTA - "An object a bit smaller than that carved out Meteor Crater in Arizona." So less than 1.5km wide, that'd make a smallish hole in the ocean, but nothing like that feared landslide from the Azores.

Re:Is it REALLY that bad? (2, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 4 years ago | (#33726034)

Not much. Kind of a bummer if the asteroid isn't nice enough to land in an uninhabited part of Siberia though.

Like in 1908? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33726226)

Not much. Kind of a bummer if the asteroid isn't nice enough to land in an uninhabited part of Siberia though.

Well, hopefully it gets the same memo we sent out in 1908 [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Is it REALLY that bad? (2, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | about 4 years ago | (#33726098)

It wouldn't be an extinction level event or anything like that, but it would almost certainly ruin the day of anyone nearby where it did hit. And even if we could get advanced warning of where it would hit and evacuate all the people, if it heads towards a city, that's a lot of property/infrastructure/housing that will be obliterated. So not necessarily catastrophic, but probably not particularly great either.

Although if we figured out that it was going to hit somewhere basically unpopulated and un-utilized (middle of a desert or something), it could actually be kind of cool. We could probably get some excellent satellite video footage of it.

Re:Is it REALLY that bad? (3, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | about 4 years ago | (#33726144)

That test was an air burst. In any case a nuclear weapon delivers its energy as heat while a meteorite delivers its as kinetic energy so the effects are not going to be the same even when the energy is.

Re:Is it REALLY that bad? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#33726526)

Heat is kinetic energy.

Re:Is it REALLY that bad? (2, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 4 years ago | (#33726198)

Depends on where it hits. A single 50 megaton nuclear bomb doesn't really do much to the earth, long term. Obviously, the Soviet bomb hasn't had any lasting environmental impacts worldwide. However, they exploded that bomb near the Arctic Circle in an unpopulated, desolate place. If it had been in the middle of Hawaii, that probably wouldn't be much of a vacation spot now.

A 20Mt asteroid hitting in the middle of the ocean would be a big and interesting event, but nothing to be too concerned about. However, a 20Mt asteroid hitting in the middle of Washington D.C. would affect human history in a big way (whether for better or worse is debatable; I'd miss the Smithsonian museums personally).

Re:Is it REALLY that bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33726532)

No much real damage, except for the guy that had to light the fuse.

Seriously though: it was done in a very, very remote part of the planet. You wouldn't have wanted to be out in the open within 30 miles of ground zero. Now, consider Hiroshima and what 21 kilotons did.

WOLF WOLF WOLF (1, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | about 4 years ago | (#33725950)

If the astronomers issue press releases like this every month, what happens when an asteroid really comes close?

Re:WOLF WOLF WOLF (1)

woutersteven (1735290) | about 4 years ago | (#33725974)

they say i told you so!

Re:WOLF WOLF WOLF (1)

Bobakitoo (1814374) | about 4 years ago | (#33726032)

It will be too late then, so why bother.

Re:WOLF WOLF WOLF (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#33726448)

It's not really their fault, this isn't "Oh no, we're all going to die!" (that was, of course how the media sold it to their readers), the real press release was "Hurray, our new telescope works!".

Re:WOLF WOLF WOLF (1)

c++0xFF (1758032) | about 4 years ago | (#33726450)

By the time we see it, it's already too late. Press releases like this help us know the danger so we put some $$$ into finding these things.

Re:WOLF WOLF WOLF (2, Funny)

Preston Pfarner (14687) | about 4 years ago | (#33726576)

Well, if it's a comet, it might be called Wolf-Biederman ...

good news (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 4 years ago | (#33725982)

Well finally some good news after all this doom and gloom lately.

Hope it hits something that needs to be hit and solves some sort of a problem of that time.

Kinda slow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33725986)

88 years to move 20 million miles? The thing is only moving 26MPH relative to us, and it's only 150' in diameter. How many kilacalories (since everything else is in imperial) in a megaton of TnT? That doesn't seem like it would be packing 20 megatons of kinetic energy.

Re:Kinda slow (2, Funny)

richdun (672214) | about 4 years ago | (#33726128)

Well, I'm guessing it isn't on a direct course for Earth, and is traveling through the solar system on some eccentric orbit around the Sun. Also, once it gets here (if it gets here), it will accelerate both as it gets closer to the Sun's gravity well and as it gets closer to Earth's gravity well (the latter especially as it enters the atmosphere).

If it is headed directly for Earth, though, like "They're on a direct course for Sector 001," we're in trouble.

Re:Kinda slow (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 4 years ago | (#33726346)

it will accelerate both as it gets closer to the Sun's gravity well and as it gets closer to Earth's gravity well (the latter especially as it enters the atmosphere).

I rather think it will decelerate when it hits the dense atmosphere, but your point still stands.

Re:Kinda slow (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | about 4 years ago | (#33726262)

Let's see, 4/3 times pi times 75' cubed... 1,767,146 cubic feet of asteroid. At 62.42 pounds per cubic foot at STP, that much water would weigh 110,305,245 pounds. The asteroid density is probably considerably higher.

But even if it isn't, anything weighing 110 million pounds, hitting the Earth at 26 MPH, would saturate pretty much every seismograph on the planet. Sure, some of the material will burn off in the atmosphere, but Earth's gravity will compensate for the lost mass via acceleration.

Impact in your PJs (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#33726502)

A "gram of TNT" is defined as 1 kcal, or 4.184 kJ. So a "ton of TNT" is a million grams of TNT, or 4.184 GJ, and 20 megatons are about 84 PJ.

Don't worry (-1, Offtopic)

slapout (93640) | about 4 years ago | (#33726054)

Don't worry, President Obama says we can absorb the impact

Re:Don't worry (0, Offtopic)

slapout (93640) | about 4 years ago | (#33726334)

Troll? Didn't you see the news story? Obama said "We can absorb a terrorist attack." http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/09/22/130040247/obama-says-we-can-absorb-a-terrorist-attack-your-thoughts

2098? (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 4 years ago | (#33726064)

Who wants to bet we won't do anything about it until late 2097? Probably be a big issue in the 2096 elections and then congress will be paralyzed by partisan divisions for the first half of 2097. Only the rapidly approaching 2098 mid-terms will force them to focus on the, also rapidly approaching, killer asteroid.

Re:2098? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33726368)

Assuming of course that the USA still exists in 90 years or it hasn't lost enough power for people to actually care.

non sequitur (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33726088)

It's still twenty million miles away so if it hits us, it won't happen until 2098

Either the asteroid is travelling at 26mph, or that conclusion doesn't follow from the given premise..

Re:non sequitur (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#33726446)

Or just a journalist that doesn't know anything about orbits and misunderstood the information he was given.

I've seen that movie... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33726130)

It hit's paris...

Flying Cars (1)

PmanAce (1679902) | about 4 years ago | (#33726174)

I bet there will finally be some flying cars by then...

88 years until Bellus!!!! (1)

Picass0 (147474) | about 4 years ago | (#33726204)

Bellus is approaching!

Not as impressive as it sounds (2, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 4 years ago | (#33726206)

From the summary:

" While it's only 50 meters wide, it could have the impact of a 20 megaton bomb."

Which sounds impressive - until you realize just how empty the Earth really is. Across probably 80% of the Earth, a 20 meg explosion will produce few (if any) casualties. Doubly so since that size range is likely to breakup and deposit most of it's energy in the upper atmosphere.
 
Phil, you've done lots of good stuff, but you're just reaching for the hits and ad impressions with this one.

Re:Not as impressive as it sounds (1, Flamebait)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 4 years ago | (#33726312)

I hope that it hits France. I hate the French.

Big Deal? (2, Informative)

Tyler Durden (136036) | about 4 years ago | (#33726208)

Twenty megaton blast? Meh. We've seen worse [wikipedia.org] .

Of course, I'm sure where it strikes will make a bit of difference.

Fusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33726210)

When it gets here, fusion power plants will only be 50 years away.

The real question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33726216)

Will we be on IPV6 by then?

Humans ftw (1)

AlfaMike (1902786) | about 4 years ago | (#33726218)

20 megaton? Hell, we did better [wikipedia.org] already. Let's just hope it doesn't hit some crowded area.

A catalyst for world peace (2, Interesting)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | about 4 years ago | (#33726238)

Today countries all over the world cling to ethnic and religious differences as primary societal foundations. As long as that is true we will have never ending war. This asteroid is a gift of a single unifying foundation for all of humankind to unite around. Working together to deflect this asteroid will diminish those cherished divisions along ethnic and religious lines. Once we are done, the young generations will see no reason to go back to hating each other.

Re:A catalyst for world peace (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33726454)

'religious' -- watch out you might get what ask for. Everyone will pray that the asteroid will not hit the earth.

The moral of this story is: (0)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 4 years ago | (#33726336)

The real story here is how a remarkable telescoped dubbed Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System that went operational in May found its first potential target in our growing impact alert system for Earth."

If you go looking for trouble, you'll probably find it.

So now we'll be alerted about every possible, improbable and potential risk that might occur at some distant time in the future. I can see two stages to this: fear and panic for the first few "alerts" and apathy for all the rest. Then, one day, a really BIG threat will be discovered. One that is imminent and everyone will ignore it since none of the preceding ones amounted to anything. Shortly after that, the one remaining scientist will crawl out from under the rubble and say "I told you so".

Let's save all these announcements until there's a real and present (to use the cliche) danger. One that we can actually take some actions to mitigate, rather than just run around waving our collective hands in the air.

Re:The moral of this story is: (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#33726402)

If you wait for there to be a present danger, you drastically reduce your options for preventative action. Even a 50 meter asteroid is MASSIVE compared to anything we have in orbit and it could take decades to design and implement a response capable of deflecting such an orbit.

telescoped? (2, Funny)

prograde (1425683) | about 4 years ago | (#33726350)

telescoped [tel-uh-skohp-dee] noun, a process that runs in the background waiting for incoming photons.
Usage: "here is how a remarkable telescoped ... found its first potential target."

This we can deal with (1)

Troggie87 (1579051) | about 4 years ago | (#33726358)

Given the rapid improvements we are likely to see in anti-satellite weapons in the next few decades, I doubt asteroids of that size will be any significant threat by then so long as we know about them in advance. Its small enough to blow up. Bigger asteroids, or ones we don't catch till a day before, are the ones that will kill people. Even if its solid iron I imagine we could nudge it offcourse with a handful of well aimed rockets.

If I'm alive... (1)

Mad-cat (134809) | about 4 years ago | (#33726412)

If I'm still alive then, I'll head to the expected impact site. Best funeral pyre ever!

strange brew that's also good for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33726418)

That would be home made Kombucha. Maintaining its' usefulness come hell or high water.

Meters...miles (0)

Marin3 (988561) | about 4 years ago | (#33726480)

Why did you use meters and then miles to describe length? Couldn't you have used just the Unit System the whole world uses???
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