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Asteroid Once Seen As Dangerous Offers Chance For Close Study

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the no-relationship-to-sg1 dept.

Space 122

RedEaredSlider writes "An asteroid that once was seen as a danger to the Earth may soon provide a once-in-a-century opportunity to get a close look at one — and learn more about the ones that really are a hazard. The asteroid is called Apophis. It's a near-Earth asteroid that is a type called a chondrite, essentially a stony body that has high silicate content and few metals. It is about 330 meters across, and it's due to pass the Earth in 2029."

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If the eyes start glowing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058768)

Run away.

Re:If the eyes start glowing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058790)

Dont worry! SG-1 will save us again.

Re:If the eyes start glowing (2)

NoEvidenZ (807374) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059010)

Apophis? No problem. If it had been called Anubis I would've been worried that it was filled with Naquadah or something [gateworld.net] .

Re:If the eyes start glowing (2)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058980)

I love that show (Stargate). Not as good as Babylon 5 or Deep Space Nine, but still a great series. Always kept me on the edge of my seat, and I enjoyed the "exploring new worlds" aspect that other shows have abandoned.

- Like the planet with the strange white men that talked to flowers
- Or the time they accidentally opened onto a black hole gate (Never understood why they were not able to rescue the other SG team.)
- Or the first time they met the replicators

Good stuff.

Re:If the eyes start glowing (2)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060120)

Or the time they accidentally opened onto a black hole gate (Never understood why they were not able to rescue the other SG team.)

Apparently you didn't like the show enough to understand why they couldn't rescue the other team. It had to do with the gravity well of the black hole causing time dilation. What they were seeing had already taken place.

In fact, the event horizon got into the SG center and was in the process of doing its thing until a small nuclear device was dropped into the Stargate, severing the connection.

The complete rundown [gateworld.net] .

How do they know the content (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058778)

"it's a near-Earth asteroid that is a type called a chondrite, essentially a stony body that has high silicate content and few metals."

Hmmm. How do they know the content so well. I can understand long distance analyses of planet atmospheres and stars, but this piece of... err chondrite?

Re:How do they know the content (3, Informative)

sensei moreh (868829) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058802)

Spectroscopes

Re:How do they know the content (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35060046)

spectrography (AKA: Spectroscopy, Spectrometry, Spectroscopes) is definitely part of it. The orbit also gives them an idea of the mass of the asteroid which helps confirm that they the surface materials aren't too dissimilar to the inner makeup (because spectography can only detect the surface composition). Then they use examples of similar asteroids that have fallen to earth (I know "meteoroids") to refine the guesstimate on the makup a bit further. The only thing they can't make and educated guess on yet is whether they're looking at a rubble pile or a solid asteroid, I think the mass gives them somewhat of an idea, but its still shaky.

Re:How do they know the content (2)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058804)

How do they know the content so well

They know it by inference, from meteorites that have been recovered on earth and, presumably, have a similar composition.

Re:How do they know the content (2)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058840)

Because its orbital properties have been very well studied due to the potential if civilization altering impact. We know its approximate volume and mass. this gives us a fairly good clue about its composition because a mostly metal asteroid would be much more dense.

Re:How do they know the content (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058964)

Not really, no. Not only we don't know its orbital properties to desired levels - simply knowing orbit won't really give you a very good mass of some point body, you need to observe a satellite of said body.

Volume / size and mass are usually estimated from brightness and spectroscopy (comparing the latter with samples we have on Earth)

Re:How do they know the content (4, Informative)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058960)

We have a good idea of the composition of asteroids in general, from meteorites, planetary formation models, etc.

We believe Apophis is chondritic because based on its apparent brightness and the way that brightness varies, we have a decent estimate of its size and albedo. If it had a different albedo it would indicate a different composition.

Of course, as with all remote observations based on a lot of educated guesses, there is a chance its wrong. However, if it is its probably a pathological case we could never gotten right, and that would make it even more interesting to visit.

Re:How do they know the content (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059526)

We have a good idea of the composition of asteroids in general, from meteorites, planetary formation models, etc.

We believe Apophis is chondritic because based on its apparent brightness and the way that brightness varies, we have a decent estimate of its size and albedo. If it had a different albedo it would indicate a different composition.

Of course, as with all remote observations based on a lot of educated guesses, there is a chance its wrong.

In other words, SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess)

Re:How do they know the content (2)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#35059866)

It is a little better than a wild ass guess. This particular asteroid happens to pass fairly close to the Earth from time to time and is also studied a bit more carefully due to its predicted potential to strike the Earth.

Yes, there is a chance it could be wrong, but there have been other asteroids which have been studied much more carefully and have even had physical probes go near or even land upon them for various kinds of scientific studies. Based upon those studies as well as meteor samples it seems like a pretty good assumption.

The orbital trajectory is known to a high degree, and it certainly will be passing near the Earth... at least pass closer to the Earth than the Moon is from us. A manned expedition to this asteroid is even possible under those circumstances, and certainly a sample/return mission could be possible not to mention having dozens of amateur and professional telescopes get a real close look at this object when it passes under the orbits of a whole bunch of satellites.

What is especially useful here is due to this sort of close observation, it can help to refine and confirm or deny theories used to identify the composition of more distant asteroids. More likely it will help to refine them and perhaps even set up additional and finer classification guidelines.

Re:How do they know the content (1)

kikito (971480) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058992)

It was privately revealed to professor Huxdane that the asteroid was a chrondrite.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iV2VjdpVonY [youtube.com]

And that's the way it is... (1)

OlRickDawson (648236) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058792)

Closing remarks from Walter Chrondite, after reporting on the asteroid flyby...

Not too much of a difference... (4, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058794)

The speed, relative to Earth, during the encounter will be quite high - so a probe / lander / etc. allowing for really close study would need to get quite a kick from its rocket. And very rapidly (basically ruling out more efficient means of propulsion, those tend to have very low thrust) Probably much larger than sending it to some more optimal (regarding transfer orbits and delta-v) targets, a thing ... which we are already doing!

If it turns to be practical, another nice target is good to have of course.

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058898)

Send up 3 rockets tethered together by cables meeting at a common midpoint into the path of the asteroid. Boom, asteroid hits cable, probes get accelerated by asteroid to matching speed and are dragged off being the asteroid, providing observations for a long time... what could possibly go wrong?

Re:Not too much of a difference... (3, Funny)

Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059116)

Would those be African or European rockets?

Re:Not too much of a difference... (0)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059708)

First we need to ensure that the rocket is unladen. Only then can we determine velocity based on sub-species.

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059718)

Would those be African or European rockets?

Most probably European [wikipedia.org] .

African rockets [wikipedia.org] never really took off.

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 2 years ago | (#35061054)

I never really considered OTRAG to be African... certainly no more than Ariane 5 being South American (or Soyuz - Asian). Too bad it didn't even really get a chance..

And hopefully no more of

Nkoloso, at least from the evidence we have to go on, was something closer to a cargo cult leader than a scientist. What remains fascinating to us today is that he drew on the sublimity of space travel -- not religious sentiment -- to win friends and influence people. It's a reminder of the power that space travel had in the popular imagination of the 1960s.

( Old, Weird Tech: The Zambian Space Cult of the 1960s [theatlantic.com]
Edward Makuka Nkoloso [wikipedia.org] )
Though I seriously wonder about the mentioned cats ;) ... if we ever seriously venture into space, what other cuddly pet could be possibly better? ;p (not only agility or hygiene, also the theme of them being chosen already when the space is scarce and conditions hard [time.com] ... )

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059420)

Boom...

ACME rockets?

So, Mr Coyote, will you be using roller skates or a giant slingshot in that plan?

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059468)

Tell me more about the material from which these cables are made.

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

mikael (484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059524)

The asteroid isn't simply one big rock - it seems to be a orbiting pile of rubble that has coalesced into a single object. The cables would probably just cut straight through - though they might snag on one of the larger rocks (50m radius) and apply some force onto it.

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

srmalloy (263556) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059696)

Have you ever watched video of a bola [wikipedia.org] being used to take down game? The weights at the ends of the cords whip around at increasing speed as they wind around the legs of the target. The average orbital velocity of Apophis is 30 kilometers a second, so that's the relative speed between the probes and Apophis when it hits the cables. If you ever played tetherball as a kid, you'll remember that the ball speeds up as it winds in to the pole, so the probes might well double the initial relative velocity by the time of impact; rather than "providing observations for a long time", what you'd be doing is performing the experiment "What happens when we hit Apophis with three probes at a relative velocity of 100,000 miles per hour?" That is, of course, assuming that you managed to produce a cable strong enough that it doesn't break on contact, and the acceleration as the probes wind in doesn't exceed their design limits.

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060024)

What if the cord was a really strong bungie?

Re:Not too much of a difference... (2)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058936)

The speed, relative to Earth, during the encounter will be quite high - so a probe / lander / etc. allowing for really close study would need to get quite a kick from its rocket

It would probably be done in a roundabout way, first sending the probe in an interplanetary trajectory, to get gravitational assist [wikipedia.org] from another planet. Then it would do a close fly-by to the moon to get the required orbit inclination.

TFA states that the mission would have to be launched in 2021 to reach it by 2029.

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059048)

Which in the end means that the goal of reaching it during flyby is quite ... irrelevant. We might "just" treat it as another very interesting near-Earth object, to be closely studied not necessarily starting from 2029 (hey, it would be of course great if we could get the funding and the mission reaching it even sooner!) - one which does have higher priority due to its risks (and how a beacon on its surface could be useful), but again: nothing too special about the encounter.

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059080)

We really need to get off our butts, and invent Antimatter-powered warp drive.

Oh wait. No antimatter. Never mind.

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059182)

Possibly no warp drive, too [tufts.edu]

(but you might start by building a ship with a hull not constrained by Archimedes' principle ... its over 2 thousand years old, surely should be easier to ignore; those airplanes from "our" times [goo.gl] , depicted in works of fiction from mere ~130 years ago, shouldn't be too far away now, too - because reality [wikimedia.org] is just too boring)

Re:Not too much of a difference... (2)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059794)

Although "The Relativity of Wrong" is one of my favorite Asimov essays, i wouldn't rule some changes in basic physics yet.

The situation now is very similar to that in the second half of the nineteenth century. Then there existed a strong consensus that Newtonian physics were the last theory, but two facts spelled problems against that view: the inability to reconcile Maxwell's equations with Newtonian physics and the Michelson-Morley experiment.

Today we have some facts that give some hint that relativity presents some problems: the Bell inequality, the Pioneer anomaly, the galaxy rotation problem.

Looking at the different explanations for the Pioneer anomaly I feel a strange sense of deja-vu, because they sound a lot like the explanations for the Michelson-Morley experiment in the late 1800s. Same thing with the theories invented to reconcile GR with QM.

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060138)

Do not forget to mention how, if anything, the realization of the consequences of Michelson-Morley experiment (and also the then triumphant wave theory hitting some dualities) had shown also many further limits of our world. And those effects were, ultimately, quite large.

If the Pioneer anomaly exists, it's exceedingly minuscule. Sensible proportions of dark matter and dark energy dictated by cosmological models ... surprisingly in line with those suggested by observations. Or, one of my favorites: how inertia appears to act like a gravitational influence from the rest of the Universe [fullerton.edu] ... but this has a major headache of, for one example, requiring the interaction to go backwards in time! Couple it with how the Universe doesn't appear to have signs of expansive intelligence which developed (that's almost equivalent to "will ever develop"!) FTL / time travel - and I wouldn't be too surprised if our speed of light limit will turn out to be even more fundamental than we thought. Or, to put it another way, maybe so ingrained into other basics, that trying to work around it doesn't matter - the relative values, properties and character remaining similarly limited for all sensible Universes.

Don't get me wrong - escaping our constraints would be great. But wishful thinking certainly has its limits.

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060468)

I think the speed of light limitation is very fundamental, based on mathematics alone: IF space and time are quantized, the Courant condition [wikipedia.org] will not let waves propagate faster than a certain speed.

Nevertheless, a universe with FTL would be much more interesting...

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

Rolgar (556636) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059346)

I think it would be much better to launch the probe prior to the approach of the rock, and let the rock catch up to it from behind. That or figure out a way to use the moon and Earth to slingshot a probe up to the necessary speed (I suppose if this we possible, we'd do it for every launch we currently make).

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060292)

That's not "letting the rock catch up to it from behind", that's "letting the rock pass it, quite rapidly". And you cannot slingshot via body around which you are orbiting, that in itself requires already relatively fast passes / what we're doing with pretty much every interplanetary probe (also using Earth, but as, for one hypothetical example: 1) launch from Earth 2) slingshot during Venus flyby 3) second Venus slingshot 4) Earth slingshot 5) Jupiter slingshot 6) ... )

Re:Not too much of a difference... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35059416)

The speed, relative to Earth, during the encounter will be quite high - so a probe / lander / etc. allowing for really close study would need to get quite a kick from its rocket. And very rapidly (basically ruling out more efficient means of propulsion, those tend to have very low thrust) Probably much larger than sending it to some more optimal (regarding transfer orbits and delta-v) targets, a thing ... which we are already doing!

We have a bit of time to get it in place ahead of time... its really an issue of timing. Put it in a highly elliptic orbit using a high impulse low thrust engine, such that the periapsis is near the close approach point, wouldn't necessarily require a chemical rocket.

Re:Not too much of a difference... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35059510)

The asteriod will zip by Earth at 8 km/s while the fastest Earth escape velocity of a spacecraft was 16 km/s in the case of the New Horizons probe. It is well within our capabilities to lauch a probe directly from Earth to intercept and follow/land on the asteroid.

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060214)

As I said, quite a kick (one of more powerful rockets used, fairly small probe) - plus it's much closer (possibly not enough, you would need to do calculations) than it looks; that escape velocity of New Horizons doesn't include how, with Apophis approach, effects which often are used to ease getting into orbit, might get in our way; or change of orbital inclination around the Sun. Plus exceptionally small launch window.

Re:Not too much of a difference... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060692)

The speed, relative to Earth, during the encounter will be quite high

The speed, relative to Earth, during the encounter will be similar to the speed Apollo had after it's lunar injection burn. Rather less than the speed required to send something to Mars.

In other words, not really a big deal, compared to things we've already sent into space.

Capture it! (2)

smoothnorman (1670542) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058882)

As a proof of concept of the manipulation of large nearby objects for commercial or planetary defense why not attempt to capture it into some not too remote orbit? I mean, "what could possibly go wrong?" Think of it as keeping a cue-ball handy for the next object that we want to redirect. Or stick telemetry on it; or a kick-ass telescope. Or mine it for unobtainium. If we don't learn to screw with the toys nearby we'll never move on to the proper human hegemony.

Re:Capture it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058950)

You know what would be hilarious. If 2 or more nations geared up to try capturing the asteroid, and ended up starting a nuclear war over it.

Re:Capture it! (2)

ddd0004 (1984672) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059012)

We could also move it into a low earth orbit and use it to sweep paths through all the obsolete satellites and other space junk that is up there. Maybe sell the naming and advertising rights to the highest bidder too. I personally look forward to watching the Cialis Erectoid flying overhead.

Re:Capture it! (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059456)

You want to provide a large, loosely held target, guaranteed to be hit by lots of the projectiles (and many good satellites...) which are already there? Brilliant...

Re:Capture it! (1)

karlwilson (1124799) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060992)

Except, when you move an object into a specific orbit, it moves at the same speed as everything else in that orbit.

Re:Capture it! (4, Informative)

Covalent (1001277) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059136)

Hard to do! It's speed is about 31 km/s...geosynchronous orbit is more like 3 km/s. So delta V is about 28km/s...for an asteroid with a mass of 2.7×10^10 kg, that's a kinetic energy of about 1E19 J or around 2.5 billion tons of TNT (2.5 gigatons). Yeah...that's a lot.

Re:Capture it! (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059500)

Yeah, just another fantasy ... it's no wonder people are disappointed, after all the works of fiction they're attacked with, by our great achievements in space.

Well, there might be one doable mechanism - transfer of momentum to capture one element of binary asteroid. Still far from trivial, especially if such object needs to be redirected (because there doesn't seem to be one readily available). And for doubtful gains.

Re:Capture it! (1)

atrain728 (1835698) | more than 2 years ago | (#35059894)

It's orbital velocity may be near 31 km/s (relative to the sun), however it's velocity relative to earth (which would be the figure you're citing for geosynch orbital velocity) is not that great. Earth's orbital velocity is about 1 km/s lower than that. Of course, you can't say that the relative velocity between the two is the difference since this is quite obviously a 3 dimensional problem.

However, you can say that this is within the range of velocity of a geosynch satellite (30km/s +/- 3km/s) relative to the sun.

I'll leave the orbital mechanics to the astrophysicists, but from what I've read - especially given opportunity of the slingshot event in 2029 - it seems entirely plausible that a cluster of ion/VASIMR thrusters could alter the trajectory enough such that the 2029 event would be a capture, rather than a near miss.

Re:Capture it! (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060054)

If you could deflect it towards the atmosphere and then aerobrake it in to a circular orbit around the Earth...

Might be better to try this with the Moon.

Re:Capture it! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35060252)

If you could deflect it towards the atmosphere and then aerobrake it in to a circular orbit around the Earth...

Might be better to try this with the Moon.

I don't think we should try to aerobrake the moon.

Re:Capture it! (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060348)

:-P

Re:Capture it! (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060734)

Well, we do have something like 50,000 nuclear warheads we (hopefully) don't ever plan on using. At an average yield of about 400MegaTons each we should have enough as long as everything is planned and the blasts are as focused as possible. How about we land a shuttle on the asteroid, drill a shaft to act as focus for the blast energy, then set off several weapons from within the asteroid to redirect it's path. Maybe we can hire Bruce Willis do to the drilling!

Re:Capture it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35061128)

You are going at it wrong. Not geosynchronous, just make the orbit low enough that 31km/s is orbit speed. Then duck!

Re:Capture it! (1)

wall0645 (1665631) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059278)

One of the reasons we would not want to do this (change the path of the asteroid), as Carl Sagan talked about (I believe in the COSMOS TV series), is because if we could, it means we would also have the technology to direct the course of the asteroid into the Earth. I'm not sure if this is the only reason we have not yet tried such a thing (perhaps we've just never had such an opportunity), but I think some are hesitant to explore this potential doomsday weapon.

Re:Capture it! (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059486)

One of the reasons we would not want to do this (change the path of the asteroid), as Carl Sagan talked about (I believe in the COSMOS TV series), is because if we could, it means we would also have the technology to direct the course of the asteroid into the Earth. I'm not sure if this is the only reason we have not yet tried such a thing (perhaps we've just never had such an opportunity), but I think some are hesitant to explore this potential doomsday weapon.

Yes, if we don't do it, then we'll never figure out that we can do it... wait...

Eschew obfuscation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058902)

"essentially a stony body that has high silicate content and few metals"

'Round these here parts we done call that a "rock".

i'm taking bets now (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058908)

that if we land on it or sample it or crash something into it, it will perturb the orbit just enough to hit us at some point

Re:i'm taking bets now (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059266)

Don't worry. The Earth has survived plenty of asteroid impacts in the past. Therefore I conclude that asteroid impacts are nothing to worry about.

Re:i'm taking bets now (1)

ddd0004 (1984672) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059634)

Sounds good to me. Have you considered running for office?

Re:i'm taking bets now (1)

markwalt (757971) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060288)

Yeah, Earth has survived it reasonably well. Her flora and fauna, however, have a mixed record with respect to impact survival.

Re:i'm taking bets now (1)

Last_Available_Usern (756093) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060342)

Ok, put me down for $8bil that it doesn't hit. I'll let my great x 10^37 grandchildren settle up this wager.

Cool! (1)

Pro923 (1447307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058924)

Let's mess with it and change it's gravity slightly!

Re:Cool! (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059090)

Those analyses are relatively easy to do, and you're not going to change its trajectory significantly unless you really mean to.

In order to do it with a ~500 kg spacecraft you have to hover about 200 meters away from the asteroid with your engines thrusting essentially continuously for around a year. If you're not close enough to have to worry about hovering, or if you're trying to do a landing, no reasonably sized spacecraft is going to make a difference.

Re:Cool! (1)

Pro923 (1447307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059214)

In my mind, at a distance the mass of an object would include things that are in orbit around it - in terms of how it interacts with things far away gravitationally. Whether or not this adds up to anything significant over the course of the object's millions of miles of orbit - I'll give you that I could imagine that the difference is insignificant.

Re:Cool! (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059326)

Well, as long as the mass of the object is negligible compared to the body its orbiting (in this case, the asteroid is absurdly smaller than the sun), then the mass of the body has no effect on its orbit. More specifically, the force is proportional to the mass so that the acceleration is constant regardless of mass.

The only time it will make a difference is for non-gravitational forces like solar radiation pressure or atmospheric drag. Then the surface area of the spacecraft will be much smaller than the asteroid, so it won't be a big deal, unless you're trying to change it on purpose.

Also, you never want to try and orbit a small asteroid like this. Their gravity fields are way too weird and unpredictable and you can end up crashing after a few revs of what starts out looking stable. Preferably you either land, get far enough away that the gravity is just a perturbing force, or do the standoff required for gravity tractoring.

Apophis? (2)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058926)

What's with the exotic asteroid names? Just once, I'd love to see them name an extraterrestrial body "Bob". I can see the headlines now: "Bob threatens impact with Earth". Much less scary than "Apophis threatens to wipe out all life on planet!".

Re:Apophis? (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058982)

I'm just waiting for the one named "Anubis", or even "Ori".

Of course, if you want a vaguely threatening "ordinary" name, try "Todd".

Re:Apophis? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058994)

I didn't see a straight Bob, but there are BobBell, BobbieVaile, BobbyWilliams, BobGent, BobHawkes, BobHope, BobOne and BobRoss.

Re:Apophis? (2)

Luthwyhn (527835) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059194)

Asteroid Bob Ross? I can see it now... what a happy little impact crater!

Re:Apophis? (1)

pastyM (1580389) | more than 2 years ago | (#35061150)

Oh, I so wish I had mod points.

Re:Apophis? (1)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059264)

What's with the exotic asteroid names? Just once, I'd love to see them name an extraterrestrial body "Bob". I can see the headlines now: "Bob threatens impact with Earth". Much less scary than "Apophis threatens to wipe out all life on planet!".

Hurricanes (and Storms) have that feature.
Given that my name is one of the chosen Storm names (but it's not Bob), I am not sure if I would prefer to have a headline that said "Bob Kills 30,000, Leaves Millions Homeless" or "Bob is a Dud"

Re:Apophis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35059282)

What's with the exotic asteroid names? Just once, I'd love to see them name an extraterrestrial body "Bob". I can see the headlines now: "Bob threatens impact with Earth". Much less scary than "Apophis threatens to wipe out all life on planet!".

Stargate SG-1. Goald system lord who attempted to hit Earth with an asteroid iirc. Also the Egyptian serpent god / enemy of Ra. Some astronomer is a science fiction buff.

Re:Apophis? (1)

wolverine1999 (126497) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059614)

That's precisely what I thought when I read this....

Re:Apophis? (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060226)

By way of Wikipedia, this article on Astronomy.com [astronomy.com] seems to point out that indeed the connection to SG-1 is there in terms of how this asteroid was named.

It is sort of ironic too as there was an episode of SG-1 that dealt with an asteroid that was purposely deflected to hit the Earth by that Goa'uld system lord of the same name. That the mythology of the Egyptian god fits so well and the name up to that point had not been previously used on an asteroid only made it a perfect fit. It certainly isn't a name that would upset the IAU as much as 2309 Mr. Spock [wikipedia.org] did at the time it was named. BTW, that particular asteroid was named after a pet cat and not the Star Trek character.

Re:Apophis? (1)

Compholio (770966) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059422)

Much less scary than "Apophis threatens to wipe out all life on planet!".

Rumor is that the guys who originally spotted it named it after the Stargate SG-1 character, who (presumably) sent an asteroid to destroy the earth in the episode "Fail Safe."

Re:Apophis? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059662)

You've clearly never watched Stargate SG-1.

Apophis has tried to wipe out life on Earth on multiple occasions, though someone else tried to do it by throwing an asteroid at us.

From a sci-fi perspective, Apophis is a perfect name :)

Re:Apophis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35060056)

[The asteroid is speeding towards Earth]
Col. O'Neill [urging Maj. Carter]: Carter, I can see my house!

Re:Apophis? (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060072)

Yeah, as soon as I saw the name of the asteroid, I got a mental image of MacGuyver complaining that he could see his house from it.

Re:Apophis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35062150)

It is not a Goa'uld. Pay no attention to its flashing eyes.

due to pass (2)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058934)

*nudge* There, fixed that for ya. Now it'll land so you can get a closer look...

Re:due to pass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35060624)

It seems awfully close considering how bad NASA has been on some math. Did they triple check all their conversions from metric to standard? What if there is excess solar storms at the time and the excess solar wind pushes it down just a bit that it catches earths gravity more. Then the mayans will only be off by 17 years, that is acceptable given it is a 5000+ year calendar. I should probably get out of my parents basement and find me a woman.

Enterprise 1 to beam up.

We can handle this (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059032)

We already know how to deal with asteroids [wikipedia.org] . But do we have enough sharks?

If only it were made of gold! (1)

CCTalbert (819490) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059140)

Or platinum, etc.... Then there'd be waaaay more interest. The Chinese would announce they were going to land on it, then everyone else would have to jump on the bandwagon. Silica? yawn......

Maybe if we're lucky we'll see a monolith on it as it passes.

Apt description (1)

nigelo (30096) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059202)

...essentially a stony body that has high silicate content and few metals.

Hm, with advancing years and dealing with four sons, I rather resemble that remark...

Extraterrestrial Warning from 1981 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35059224)

Extraterrestrials have warned us about this comet a long time ago:

Read about it here:
http://futureofmankind.co.uk/Billy_Meier/Contact_Report_150

Re:Extraterrestrial Warning from 1981 (1)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 2 years ago | (#35061742)

That the same Billy Meier [wikipedia.org] who got caught faking UFO sightings on film, via homemade models on a string? Who claims to have been in contact with aliens?

THAT Billy Meier?

You own a LOT of SCO stock, don't you?

it's due to pass the Earth in 2029 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35059302)

Just checkin - we're all using metric units for this assessment? Right?

Re:it's due to pass the Earth in 2029 (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059384)

Are you asking if it's metric 2029 or imperial 2029?

bilbe code 2029 (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060104)

bilbe code 2029

I'm looking for the next article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35059436)

Asteroid Once Seen As Passing Safely, Now May Kill Us All.

A moot point (1)

nilbog (732352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059444)

A moot point as the world will end in 2012. But maybe if the reptilians are able to come to the surface and learn our technology they will be able to pick up where we left off and study the astroid.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Apophis (1)

RelliK (4466) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059518)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaW4Ol3_M1o

Nice planet ya got there... (1)

SunSw0rd (1946218) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059578)

Since when is 20 years from now "soon"? On the other hand, if there are space pirates out there Apophis is just right to use for blackmail. "Nice planet ya got there, be too bad if anything happened to it!". Although there is the question of what we have that they they would want.

Re:Nice planet ya got there... (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060606)

If measured with a lifetime, 20 years is of course long. But if you look at it from an astronomical (or was it astrological?) point of view, you better shouldn't blink because you could miss it.

Soon? (1)

dynamo (6127) | more than 2 years ago | (#35059840)

Look, I know we're talking large time scales here, but the word 'soon' is not appropriate to use with a wait time of 18 years.

Re:Soon? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060612)

Now subtract time to get the public's attention, time to direct that attention towards political action to fund a mission, time to arrange the prime contracts for the mission, time to design the system well enough to let subcontracts, time to develop the components, time to integrate the components, and time to launch the vehicle and travel to the asteroid.

We'll probably miss it by 8 months.

asteroid retrieval (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#35059858)

I remember in late 1970s of looking through a NASA STAR reports abstracts, there were a series of reports on asteroid retrieval. I think it discussed these in terms of mining for various metals and I think of of these suggested placing an asteroid in earth orbit. One of these days I'll find that book (along with other archival stuff like my CB radio license). I did a quick search but didn't find these (yes I know I gotta make it specific but then if I can do that then I already have the reports!). I did see some listings mentioning space elevators and "Asteroid Retrieval by Rotary Rocket." Gotta get back to work anyway.

Don't miss this opportunity (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 2 years ago | (#35060438)

Apophis is a great opportunity to put an asteroid in orbit. The technology would allow us to put high-value mining resources in easy reach of orbital platforms. The result would be vast mineral resources available for engineering works, without costly launch fuel requirements.

Re:Don't miss this opportunity (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | more than 2 years ago | (#35061530)

High-value? Is silica really that hard to find on Earth?

and by "close study" they mean (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 2 years ago | (#35061358)

revolving around slowly in a circle going "pew pew pew!" at it

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