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Asteroid To Pass Near Earth On Monday

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the if-you-look-you'll-go-blind dept.

Space 183

TigerNut writes "Asteroid 2011 MD was discovered on June 22 by LINEAR, and its flight path will take it within 8000 miles (12000 km) of Earth. Orbital predictions indicate that its flight path will be significantly altered by this close approach."

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Should we worry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572008)

So as long as the asteroid is less than 8000 miles across, we should be fine?

Re:Should we worry? (4, Interesting)

alba7 (100502) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572018)

The opening paragraph of the fine article: Asteroid 2011 MD, a chunk of rock estimated to be 25 to 55 feet (8 to 18 m) across, [...]

Re:Should we worry? (2, Interesting)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572044)

I'm amazed that 25 feet qualifies as an asteroid.

Don't underestimate the energy of small asteroids. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572108)

Do you understand the basic laws of physics? I suspect that you don't, so let me simplify this situation for you. An object that large, even if it is only 25 to 50 feet across, made of rock, hitting into something on Earth would be a pretty significant impact. It would release a huge amount of energy, and it would cause much destruction.

Have you ever had a golfer hit a golf ball into your penis and scrotum? Have you? Keep in mind that a golf ball is relatively small, and aside from its shell it is made of elastic wrapped around a lightweight core of wood or rubber. It's also traveling far slower than an asteroid entering the atmosphere would be traveling. Yet the damage it could do when hitting a soft target like genitalia is immense.

The same goes for anything impacting the surface of the earth from space, especially for something made of rock and traveling extremely quickly.

Re:Don't underestimate the energy of small asteroi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572140)

No-one mentioned an impact, only that an object so small is lumped in with ones that can be hundreds of miles across. That's why you got a -1 Troll and the comment below [slashdot.org] got a +1 Informative.

Go smoke a joint or something, chill out, and have a nice day.

Re:Don't underestimate the energy of small asteroi (5, Informative)

alba7 (100502) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572160)

Quoting the fine article: "But there's no chance that the asteroid will hit Earth on this approach, and almost no risk at its next close approach, in 2022. If the asteroid did strike, it would probably explode in the upper atmosphere — a fine spectacle, but harmless."

Re:Don't underestimate the energy of small asteroi (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572190)

Right, because a golf ball that is about 1/150th the size of a human is exactly like hitting something (say, the Earth) with something that is 1/50,000,000th the size of it. The earth getting hit with a 25 foot object at fast speed is probably less like getting hit in the nuts with a golf ball and more like getting hit in the upper arm by a spec of sand.

Cars? Houses? Pets? People? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572264)

Uhh, the damage to earth itself would be minimal. But have you forgotten that people live on the earth, however? I sure wouldn't want an object like that falling on my car, or my home, or into my pool, or onto my dog, or even onto myself. It would cause some pretty bad damage.

Re:Cars? Houses? Pets? People? (5, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572966)

I sure wouldn't want an object like that falling on my car, or my home, or into my pool, or onto my dog, or even onto myself.

and especially not your testicles.

Re:Cars? Houses? Pets? People? (2)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36574008)

Reading this thread I keep remembering the movie "Idiocracy", and that "ow my balls" show. This does not bode well for the future of nerding.

Re:Cars? Houses? Pets? People? (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573338)

First of all, it is so small that it wouldn't even hit the earth, so the entire analogy is goofy.

If the asteroid did strike, it would probably explode in the upper atmosphere — a fine spectacle, but harmless.

An asteroid would have to be thousands of feet to create a nuclear winter. I'm sure it could be reasonably smaller and still destroy all life on Earth. The one that may have wiped out the dinosaurs was apparently about 42,000 feet. Whatever it was that hit Tunguska is suspected to have been a couple hundred feet. The asteroids expected to pass near earth this century We have one about 1,000 feet coming in 2029 that (if it hit) would be 65,000 times more powerful than the nuke dropped on Hiroshima.

Worrying about something so small as this is just silly and, frankly, anything that won't wipe out an entire city is fairly insignificant, as far as I'm concerned. I'm thinking about the real threats out there that we couldn't give a shit about, because our society is more concerned with having a pothole filled than a disaster averted (or they're all too busy eagerly hoping for Armageddon, so their goofy prophecies can be "fulfilled").

I punched in what numbers I could find on this object and if it were to hit the earth, it would be "barely audible" even within one mile (5dB). The object has to be significantly larger to even form a crater of any kind. All you'll end up with are small fragments that hit all over an area. I suck at math, but I suspect that with as little of the Earth that is actual land mass and then the even smaller percentage of that which is populated, the odds of even one fragment hitting a populated area are extremely small. It's not like a 25ft or 50ft object is going to hit and burst into fragments directly over a metro area. (I mean, possible, sure, but extremely unlikely).

Here, you can punch in numbers on this and other objects hitting earth, yourself: http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEffects/ [ic.ac.uk]

I only really played around with porous and dense objects hitting earth; not a body of water. The couple quick checks I did on it hitting water (depending on depth, of course) show that it would have to hit really close to shore (within a few miles) to have any real impact on the shoreline.

Re:Cars? Houses? Pets? People? (2)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573884)

I've seen that impactor estimator before, and it is pretty interesting.

The sad thing is that those who are alarmist generally haven't been paying attention to the skies anyway. I've seen some spectacular meteor showers including some meteors that I've personally seen that have exploded and produced a shower of sparks that rival or even surpass anything I've seen from a commercial fireworks display (like a 4th of July celebration) and I've even heard a sonic boom before caused by one of these object passing by. You can play with the numbers to see how large of an object that would require (it did scare the crap out of me when I heard the boom) but it did happen where I was an eyewitness. I think that was one of the Leonid storms that I was watching (more than a decade ago), so it was a bit more unusual than an ordinary night.

Stuff like that happens with some regularity on the Earth, including some object that are even larger from time to time. Most people don't notice because they are blissfully ignorant. Perhaps that is for the better anyway.

That's the whole thing... (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573898)

Whenever you hear something like this, the headline is always "Asteroid to Pass Within XXX of Earth!!!"

The first things I want to know are not the distance, but its size and velocity. Because those tell me how hard they better work on knowing the exact distance.

Re:That's the whole thing... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36574058)

But if you know how close it's going to pass to Earth, there's no possible way you can know its velocity.... DAMN YOU HEISENBERG!

For the humor impaired, yes, it's meant as a joke. I am well aware that the Uncertainty Principle (which recently has fallen into disfavor anyway) only applies to subatomic particles. You however are so disconnected from the world around you that very crude and simple humor just rushes right past your head. Please, it's time to put down the calipers, go outside, head to a bar and try very hard to acquire some sort of sexually transmitted disease, even if this costs you money.

Re:That's the whole thing... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36574174)

I want a puppy!

Re:Don't underestimate the energy of small asteroi (5, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572526)

Getting hit in the upper arm by a spec of sand might not hurt you, a human, but it would be devastating to a colony of microbes living on your arm in that spot.

Re:Don't underestimate the energy of small asteroi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572710)

An interesting idea (+1, nice day etc.). I wonder how deep within the flesh they would have to be to survive?

Re:Don't underestimate the energy of small asteroi (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572230)

How about a 50 foot soap bubble?

Re:Don't underestimate the energy of small asteroi (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572330)

How much would melt away in reentry? Objects that big have been caught on camera before and thankfully bounced off back into space. I would not want this to hit my house but if only 5 or 6 feet service it would not be a life altering event other than a big pop somewhere or splash. I believe the astroid that killed the dinosars was a quarter mile wide wasn't it? Now that would be devestating.

Re:Don't underestimate the energy of small asteroi (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572572)

It appears to be unresolved which impact crater was the one that killed the non-avian dinosaurs (the avian variety are still here: we call them "birds" now). However, the Chicxulub crater in Mexico dating from around that time was caused by a 6-mile wide asteroid:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicxulub_crater [wikipedia.org]

A quarter-mile wide asteroid is nothing to sneeze at, and would probably destroy a city or worse, but isn't nearly as bad as this one which caused a giant cloud to cover the planet. Of course, the devastation of an asteroid depends on other factors besides its size, including its composition, angle of entry, and entry velocity.

Re:Don't underestimate the energy of small asteroi (1)

ArundelCastle (1581543) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572358)

I appreciate your post. Particularly because it gives me a great idea to finish my screenplay of Caddyshack III: Spaceballs 2.

Re:Don't underestimate the energy of small asteroi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572856)

Ever done a belly flop into a pool? Now there is this strange thing called an atmosphere, it is made of stuff, and really to an object like that asteroid the atmosphere might as well be solid rock. The most your likely to get of this thing on the surface of the earth, is some super fine space dust.

Re:Don't underestimate the energy of small asteroi (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573442)

So as long as it doesn't hit Earth's nuts, everything should be all right. Right?

But seriously. Sure, the energy of the impact depends on mass and speed. And hence also the damage done. And if we were talking about an asteroid of 25 miles across, I'd certainly go and spend my money on some fun before it's all over.

The possible damage an object can have on impact depends on three things: Speed, mass and volume. Now, 7.5m across (that's 25ft in SI units) isn't even a pebble on the stellar scale. Still, if accelerated to speeds beyond 0.1c and having a mass of 7+ g/cm we'd be facing quite a threat (according to this [usra.edu] it seems the average density is closer to 1-3 g/cm, though). Since the pebble is affected by Earth's gravity, enough to change its course, my guess is that the kinetic energy (which, again, depends on mass and velocity) is fairly low. An impact would certainly be noticeable, no doubt about that, and it would also most likely not be pleasant to live right where it comes down. But I guess we'll have to look elsewhere for the big killer of 2012.

Re:Don't underestimate the energy of small asteroi (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573722)

Heh I thought you were going to recommend a chiropractic adjustment for a moment there.

Re:Don't underestimate the energy of small asteroi (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573760)

Yes, actually, I do. Do you? To make your golf ball example a little more realistic, cover your groin with about a foot of bubble wrap and repeat your experiment. Can you feel the golf ball now? No? Nor would the earth feel the impact from the asteroid, as it would explode and burn up way, way, way up high in the upper atmosphere. The effects on the earth would be essentially nil.

Re:Should we worry? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572110)

Some definitions call anything below fifty meters [wikipedia.org] a meteoroid.

Re:Should we worry? (1)

alba7 (100502) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572112)

It's a bit large to merely be cosmic lint, isn't it?

Re:Should we worry? (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572284)

"Space... is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is..." "The simple truth is that interstellar distances will not fit into the human imagination." Lint might actually be a generous descriptor.

Re:Should we worry? (4, Insightful)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572122)

I'm even more amazed that we could accurately detect and track an object of this size.

Re:Should we worry? (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 3 years ago | (#36574248)

well seeing as we only just detected it 4 days ago it's not exactly like we did "track" it or "detect" it.

Camel Jockey Dune Coons Scarier Than Asteroid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572034)

> > A German's View on Islam....
> >
> >
> >
> > A man whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II, owned a
> > number of large industries and estates. When asked how many Germans were
> > true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude toward fanaticism.
> > "Very few were true Nazis," he said, "but many enjoyed the return of German
> > pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just
> > thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So the majority just sat back and
> > let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us. We had lost
> > control, and the end of our world had come. My family lost everything. I
> > ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories."
> >
> >
> >
> > We are told again and again by 'experts' and 'talking heads' that Islam is
> > the religion of peace and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to
> > live in peace. Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is
> > entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better,
> > and meant to somehow diminish the spectre of fanatics rampaging across the
> > globe in the name of Islam.
> >
> >
> >
> > Moment in history: It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who
> > wage any one of 50 wars worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically
> > slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually
> > taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who
> > bomb, behead, murder, and honor-kill. It is the fanatics who take over
> > mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the doctrine
> > of stoning and hanging rape victims and homosexuals. It is the fanatics who
> > teach their young to kill and to become suicide bombers.
> >
> >
> >
> > The hard, quantifiable fact is that the peaceful majority, the 'silent
> > majority,' is cowed and extraneous.
> >
> >
> >
> > Communist Russia was comprised of people who just wanted to live in peace,
> > yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20
> > million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant.
> >
> >
> >
> > China's huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed
> > to kill a staggering 70 million people.
> >
> >
> >
> > The average Japanese prior to World War II was not a warmongering sadist.
> > Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an
> > orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese
> > civilians; most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet.
> >
> >
> >
> > And who can forget Rwanda , which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be
> > said that the majority of Rwandans were peace loving?
> >
> >
> >
> > History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our
> > powers of reason, we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points:
> > Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence.
> >
> >
> >
> > Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don't speak up, because
> > like my friend from Germany , they will awaken one day and find that the
> > fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.
> >
> >
> >
> > Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans,
> > Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have
> > died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late.
> >
> > As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group
> > that counts -- the fanatics who threaten our way of life.

Re:Camel Jockey Dune Coons Scarier Than Asteroid (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572522)

Cool story, bro.

Re:Should we worry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572058)

Barring this thing suddenly changing course and turning out to be a Vogon construction ship, yes, we should be fine. 8000 miles is still rather a close shave on the cosmic scale, though. Unfortunately, this encounter is far from optimal from a ground-based-observational standpoint, though TFA does have some instructions for those who are able and willing to view it.

Re:Should we worry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572090)

I'm worried that we didn't discover it until a mere three days ago. Would we really only have five days notice before of an asteroid of this size collided with earth? If it were large enough to cause problems, how much sooner would we know?

Re:Should we worry? (1)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572206)

Exactly my thought. 12 km is a close call and it doesn't happen that often, something like this could have been noticed, and announced, much much earlier.

Re:Should we worry? (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572302)

Not everything in this life can be monitored or prevented. There is very little point in spending huge sums of money scanning for world killers as at this point there isnt much we can do about it anyways.

Re:Should we worry? (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572438)

Not everything in this life can be monitored or prevented. There is very little point in spending huge sums of money scanning for world killers as at this point there isnt much we can do about it anyways.

Well, I could revise my plans for what to do with my life savings. And when to do it.

Re:Should we worry? (1)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573138)

Knowing about the threat would sure help us develop those means, though, right? You may have accidentally seen at least one asteroid movie (I don't blame you if you haven't, though). The response to the threat, and all of the attend technological innovations, always comes about *after* the Earth is facing imminent destruction. Seems unlikely, but in a world where Steve Buscemi can be selected to be on an Earth-saving mission to Space, anything is possible.

"He's got space dementia!"

anubis did it! (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572288)

anubis did it!

Re:anubis did it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36573356)

So glad I'm not the only one who thought of this right away. Now where is the the Daedalus?

Re:anubis did it! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573510)

I thought Set is responsible for destruction and chaos in the Egyptian mythol... Oh, Stargate. Never mind me butting in with realit... erh, I mean...

It feels weird to question ones imagination with your own. How do the bible guys deal with that?

Re:Should we worry? (1)

tqk (413719) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572382)

Would we really only have five days notice before an asteroid of this size collided with earth?

I remember one a couple of years ago that came from an odd trajectory; pretty much from the Sun's corona. Surprised the crap out of everyone. And yeah, 25-50' across is pretty tiny to be seen by terrestrial telescopes at these distances, and pretty much everything out there moves at fairly high velocity.

If it were large enough to cause problems, how much sooner would we know?

If you're within miles of this thing hitting the surface, you'd no longer have any problems. On the other hand, Tunguska [wikipedia.org] is assumed to have exploded some distance above the surface, which might amplify its effects on fleshy things down here (same plan they used with nukes in WWII). However, that one is believed to have been considerably larger than this.

Add also that these things are made up of varying stuff; collections of dirt & gravel, big solid rocks, or metal, all bearing down at the surface at horrific speeds. The D&G might shatter and burn up, but the others likely not.

If it was a comet, you might see it sooner, but they generally move at much higher velocity - much bigger kaboom on impact.

Re:Should we worry? (1)

tqk (413719) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572440)

However, that one is believed to have been considerably larger than this.

Oops, sorry (mis-read the article). Tunguska is believed to be about this size (tens of meters across).

Re:Should we worry? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573506)

Well, let's first of all define what "problem" means. Destruction of a town? Tsunamis? Dust across a continent? Nuclear winter and the end of civilization? How big does the impact have to be to be a "problem"?

Also, due to T=m*v^2/2, it's more a matter of speed than of mass. Does anyone have a reliable source for the speed of various asteroids that clutter our sky?

Re:Should we worry? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572458)

If it had that roughtly that diameter, was made of rock and was inside the orbit of our moon, its proper name should have been Earth. And if it wasnt we will be screwed up, no matter if hits or miss, and not just for the tides, the messing with our orbit around the sun and the messing with the orbits of most of the solar system probably, but because if we didnt noticed it till 3 days ago we shouldnt trust in anything that we know about the universe, if we cant see something so big until is so close.

Where is he when you need him? (1)

QA (146189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572032)

John McAllister

I hope it takes out the comast HITS satellites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572036)

I hope it takes out the comast HITS satellites

Rapture time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572068)

We're all going to die - repent!

Anyone else see 3 asteroids in the photo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572146)

Two more up and right of the one being discussed.

Sure thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572150)

Sooner or later one of these things are going to hit us.

Re:Sure thing (3, Informative)

carlzum (832868) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572240)

An asteroid eventually hitting the earth is a sure thing, but hitting "us" is far from a sure thing [nasa.gov] . The asteroid most likely to hit earth in our lifetime has a 99.918% chance of missing.

Re:Sure thing (3, Insightful)

dthirteen (307585) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572518)

...of the asteroids that we know about...

Re:Sure thing (1)

equex (747231) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572912)

The fact that it was discovered so late is unnerving.

Re:Sure thing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36573094)

Don't panic. I read that somewhere.

Re:Sure thing (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573798)

As long as we've got our towels, we're fine :) But we should probably scarf down some peanuts; we'll need the salt.

Re:Sure thing (1)

Tasha26 (1613349) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572566)

i could do with a reset button...

Darn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572220)

Great quote for this article - It's always darkest just before the lights go out. -- Alex Clark

8000 miles = Close shave (4, Informative)

jewelie (752077) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572280)

That's deceptively close, 8000 miles is the diameter of the earth. This thing is only gonna miss us by an earths width!

Re:8000 miles = Close shave (4, Informative)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572308)

Pretty close :) I hope nothing unforeseen happens (like heat from the Sun causing gas to evaporate and the flightpath to deviate slightly - the scenario as described by Niven and Pournelle in one of their books). Would be embarassing.

Fortunately even if it does hit, it's only 8-18 meters across. According to the asteroid impact effect calculator, that'd be 720 KT of TNT when hitting the ground (assuming standard parameters, 18 meters and an iron asteroid). Tough if it were to hit you, but small chance of that. Calculator is here: http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEffects/ [ic.ac.uk]

Re:8000 miles = Close shave (4, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572388)

Yup. It definitely would cause a flesh wound if it were to strike an individual. You might even get a permanent scar.

Re:8000 miles = Close shave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36573784)

Yup. It definitely would cause a flesh wound if it were to strike an individual.

A flesh wound? Your arm's off!

Re:8000 miles = Close shave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572402)

And the fact that it was only discovered 3 days ago is even scarier. Some movies were made based on brighter assumptions and the public seems to have bought that we will be able to detect them sufficiently well ahead.

Re:8000 miles = Close shave (2)

Americium (1343605) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573624)

So the same as our tactical nukes ~ 750 KT, enough to wipe out Manhattan. Perhaps statistically the chance of hitting a major city is low, but if it does hit a city, it would be tragic and the stats would no longer matter. Even if it was a 1 in a billion chance, I'd be all for spending a trillion dollars trying to nuke it out of existence.

Re:8000 miles = Close shave (5, Funny)

unwastaken (1586569) | more than 3 years ago | (#36574026)

So the same as our tactical nukes ~ 750 KT, enough to wipe out Manhattan. Perhaps statistically the chance of hitting a major city is low, but if it does hit a city, it would be tragic and the stats would no longer matter. Even if it was a 1 in a billion chance, I'd be all for spending a trillion dollars trying to nuke it out of existence.

You work for the TSA, don't you?

Re:8000 miles = Close shave (0)

edalytical (671270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572680)

No, I'm pretty sure that is incorrect. The asteroid is "expected to pass less than 8,000 miles above Earth's surface" which means that 8,000 feet above Earth's surface is either the center of the of the asteroid's projected path or the outer edge of the asteroids path. In either case the asteroid will pass through an area of space bounded by a circle with a radius of 8,000 miles or 4,000. So, there are either 201,061,930 paths with a radius of a mile that the asteroid can take in which it will miss us or by the conservative estimate 50,265,482 such paths. If you take into account the maximum radius of the asteroid is 55 feet then there are well over 4.8x10^9 paths in which we are missed by the asteroid using the conservative estimate.

As noted in the article, "if the asteroid did strike, it would probably explode in the upper atmosphere." And if it didn't there are 139,433,845 square miles of ocean it would likely hit.

Re:8000 miles = Close shave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36573532)

Hmm, not sure why you used calculations of paths when the problem is actually quite a bit simpler. In order to hit the Earth, the asteroid would have to travel within the circle of the Earth (for purposes of calculating impacts, we can treat the problem two-dimensionally since its already assumed that the asteroid approaches the Earth) within the greater circle of its actual approach. Its approaching to within ~8000 miles, while the Earth is ~6000 miles in radius. So we have a circle with total radius of 14000 miles, or an area of 6.15e+8, while the Earth's circle has an area of 1.13e+8, making the probability (assuming complete randomness) of any given object that approaches this close to Earth about 18%.

Of course, that ignores the fact that Earth is an attractive body (insert appropriate joke here), making the probability considerably higher. So yes, a moderately close shave, especially considering how big space is.

Re:8000 miles = Close shave (1)

edalytical (671270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573858)

No, that's completely wrong! The article says "there's no chance that the asteroid will hit Earth on this approach," so how can you come up with an 18% probability. Here is where you went wrong: the center of the path of the asteroid is expected to be ~8,000 miles above the surface of Earth at a specific point on the surface, not that the center of the path is expected to have an equal chance of lying on the surface of Earth's 2D projection.

How accurate do you think "they" are going to be? (1)

dustbeered (2282496) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572292)

How close to 8,000 miles is it really going to be? I realize that I am asking numerous questions, but seriously -- who can accurately verify the distance? What equipment is being used to calculate this whole thing?

Could it break up due to tidal forces? (1)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572560)

We know that some of these objects are not very solid, but are loosely bound conglomerates of rubble. Is there any chance that this could brake into fragments due to tidal forces when it passes close to the Earth? Is there any information about it's composition?

Re:Could it break up due to tidal forces? (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572622)

It'd be well inside Earth's Roche Limit at it's point of closest approach, but it's likely moving too fast for it to be inside it for long enough to come apart. Without knowing the density and composition of the object, it's hard to say for sure, but I'd bet against it.

Re:Could it break up due to tidal forces? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573550)

Roche limit is defined for gravitationally bound bodies. It's not too much of a stretch to apply it to bulk properties like yield strength, but at the size you're talking about the forces are orders of magnitude off. I don't think the earth *has* a "roche limit" for solid rocky bodies.

Re:Could it break up due to tidal forces? (3, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573050)

Is there any chance that this could brake into fragments due to tidal forces when it passes close to the Earth?

Depends on if it has disc or drum brakes, I suppose.

Animations (4, Informative)

Spodie! (675056) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572776)

Animations [discovery.com] Here are some nice animations of the path of the asteroid.

We're all gonna die! (1)

watermark (913726) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572796)

The rapture is coming June 27th! I have done the calculations myself and can say with absolute certainty that this is an accurate date.

It's too bad NASA doesn't do anything anymore. (1)

DamienNightbane (768702) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572804)

This would be a prime opportunity to capture an asteroid and place it into a stable orbit so it can be harvested for raw materials for orbital construction projects, even if only as a proof of concept.

Re:It's too bad NASA doesn't do anything anymore. (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572954)

Even if it was going to pass close enough to be withing range of, say a space shuttle, they couldn't get one launched in time.

They fact that it was only spotted a few days away is worrying.

Re:It's too bad NASA doesn't do anything anymore. (1)

DamienNightbane (768702) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573024)

That's my point. NASA should have already had the capability and a plan to intercept and capture a near Earth asteroid. We should have already had real space stations and moon bases. Hell, by all rights we should have been on Mars decades ago.

Unfortunately, NASA hasn't done much of anything since we put a man on the moon.

Re:It's too bad NASA doesn't do anything anymore. (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573134)

We really don't need construction material. What we need is propellant.

Re:It's too bad NASA doesn't do anything anymore. (1)

DamienNightbane (768702) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573178)

It's a lot cheaper to build something in space with materials you get from space than it is to build it on the ground and launch the whole thing up. Once you're in orbit, fuel for maneuvering is insignificant compared to the fuel it took to launch the object itself.

Hell, there's water on the moon that can be used for fuel.

Re:It's too bad NASA doesn't do anything anymore. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573480)

How exactly do you intend to use water for fuel?

Re:It's too bad NASA doesn't do anything anymore. (1)

DamienNightbane (768702) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573504)

Heat it until it becomes a gas.

Re:It's too bad NASA doesn't do anything anymore. (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573584)

That's not fuel - that's reaction mass. You use fuel (or an external energy source, such as solar) to heat it up.

Re:It's too bad NASA doesn't do anything anymore. (1)

DamienNightbane (768702) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573608)

When you can get a diesel generator running on a spacecraft, then we can argue those semantics. Until then, the rest of us will continue working under the assumption that the spacecraft are powered by solar, fission, or batteries and refer to the only consumables needed for locomotion as fuel.

Re:It's too bad NASA doesn't do anything anymore. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36574100)

Don't get the better of tomhudson, or "tom"l troll you by anonymous coward replies. Tom (actually Barbara, talk about fucked up calling yourself a guy when you're a wench) Hudson is known for it. Tomhudson's not too bright, and when someone gets the best of "tom" the trolls as ac posts start and they will keep up for years man. Just because "tom's" geek angst can't handle being shown as stupid and wrong. The post beside yours shows it in tomhudson's own words quoted when he was caught doing it http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2270208&cid=36574068 [slashdot.org]

Re:It's too bad NASA doesn't do anything anymore. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36574068)

Barbara (tom) Hudson, cyberstalker?

---

HOWTO: trolling the hosts file guy in one easy step

The next time you see a post by him, just reply anonymously. And to really mess with his head, reply anonymously to your anonymous post, disagreeing with your first anon post (extra points if you claim in the second post that you're him - that REALLY sets him off). He'll accuse you of being me by tomhudson (43916) on Saturday April 16, @01:38PM (#35841122) Homepage Journal

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2086424&cid=35841122 [slashdot.org]

---

if you're going to tell this guy to stop spamming his hosts file crap, make sure you do it anonymously by tomhudson (43916) on Saturday April 16, @12:45PM (#35840680) Homepage Journal

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2086920&cid=35840680 [slashdot.org]

---

Wait until he starts on another kick, then reply to him as an AC. It's the new meme. - by tomhudson (43916) on Sunday May 09 2010, @08:29PM (#32150544) Homepage Journal

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1646272&cid=32150544 [slashdot.org]

3 times tomhudson? For over a year now also?? Appears you've degnerated into a cyberstalker tomhudson, and even trying to get other to do it with you!

Re:It's too bad NASA doesn't do anything anymore. (1)

hamburgler007 (1420537) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573184)

Do you really think we should really be in the business of trying to attract asteroids into orbit? Can't see anything that can possibly go wrong?

Re:It's too bad NASA doesn't do anything anymore. (1)

DamienNightbane (768702) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573220)

Better the orbit you know than the orbit you don't.

Especially when you have control over that orbit.

Local Damage (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572878)

Asteroid 2011 MD [skyandtelescope.com] was estimated to be 25 to 55 feet which is in the "Local Damage" [thinkquest.org] asteroid range whose impacts occur about 1 – 10 times per century.

BTW, that's "Local Damage" only if you're not local to the damage; else, it's lethal damage.

Asteroid? (1)

Nehmo (757404) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572934)

This object is 10 meters in diameter. "Asteroid 2011 MD, a chunk of rock estimated to be 25 to 55 feet (8 to 18 m) across, is expected to pass less than 8,000 miles above Earth's surface around 1 p.m. EDT (17:00 UT) on Monday, June 27th." -form source.
The logical demarcation between meteoroid and asteroid http://goo.gl/Ws6xp [goo.gl] “adopt 10 m as the dividing line for an object to be considered to be either an asteroid or a meteoroid...natural objectsolidlarger than 100 micro m” -Martin Beech and Duncan Steel, U of W Ontario, On the Definition of the term ‘Meteoroid’
Obviously, this object doesn't definitely qualify as an asteroid because it's debatable if alien spacecraft are "natural".

Um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572938)

I know I wasn't the only one to appreciate the importance of that last bit. You know, the part about it's path being deviated significantly as a result of it's close pass by Earth? What about the next time it comes around?

With in the orbit of GPS Satellites (3, Interesting)

ChronoFish (948067) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573114)

According to the Discover Article (http://news.discovery.com/space/visualizing-asteroid-2011-md-zip-past-earth-animation-110624.html), this is within the orbit of GPS satellites. While it seems most are not concerned about a collision with Earth, what happens if it takes out a satellite (or two)? Or something worse like colliding with the ISS. I hope there are some observation satellites than can a good view of the approach (and/or pass).

Re:With in the orbit of GPS Satellites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36573396)

The ISS is much lower, so don't worry. If it takes out a satellite, "what happens" is the GPS users experience minimal degradation of service while we move one of our on-orbit spares to fill the gap.

Re:With in the orbit of GPS Satellites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36573448)

A bigger concern than any immediate impact on our infrastructure would be any secondary collisions from the impact debris and the garbage free floating in low orbit already.

Don't worry, the odds are against it. (2)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 3 years ago | (#36574116)

This is why the oximoronic term "astronomically small" has been coined.

This is the metric system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36573160)

Feel free to write "12 Mm".

Back in 2022? (1)

Braedley (887013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36573314)

How about we wait to calculate the next closest approach until after it's left Earth's gravity well. I know our understanding of spatial dynamics is pretty much complete (between Newton and Kepler, we have almost all the knowledge we need), but we've only known about this thing for, what, 3 days? Also, there's the whole "Orbital predictions indicate that its flight path will be significantly altered by this close approach" thing, which tells me we aren't 100% sure which way this thing will be leaving our neighbourhood. I don't want to be thinking that we won't be seeing this thing until 2022 when it comes a knocking in 2020.

Re:Back in 2022? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36573446)

How about we wait to calculate the next closest approach until after it's left Earth's gravity well.

How about we calculate it now, then calculate it again after it leaves Earth's gravity well? If we compare the results, we might even learn something about our prediction accuracy.

I won't be amused if theres a run on bottled water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36573358)

dust masks, and flashlight batteries in university towns over the next few days

Get Zim to move it out of the way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36573910)

Zim can use Mars as a bulldozer.

Day Of The Comet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36574028)

I for one welcome our new zombie overlord masters.

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