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Earth Avoids Collisions With Pair of Asteroids

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the stand-down-Mr.-Willis dept.

Space 256

Hugh Pickens writes "According to NASA, a pair of asteroids — one just over three miles wide — passed Earth Tuesday and early Wednesday, avoiding a potentially cataclysmic impact with our home planet. 2012 XE5, estimated at 50-165 feet across, was discovered just days earlier, missing our planet by only 139,500 miles, or slightly more than half the distance to the moon. 4179 Toutatis, just over three miles wide, put on an amazing show for astronomers early Wednesday, missing Earth by 18 lunar lengths, while allowing scientists to observe the massive asteroid in detail. Asteroid Toutatis is well known to astronomers. It passes by Earth's orbit every four years and astronomers say its unique orbit means it is unlikely to impact Earth for at least 600 years. It is one of the largest known potentially hazardous asteroids, and its orbit is inclined less than half-a-degree from Earth's. 'We already know that Toutatis will not hit Earth for hundreds of years,' says Lance Benner of NASA's Near Earth Object Program. 'These new observations will allow us to predict the asteroid's trajectory even farther into the future.' Toutatis would inflict devastating damage if it slammed into Earth, perhaps extinguishing human civilization. The asteroid thought to have killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was about 6 miles wide, researchers say. The fact that 2012 XE5 was discovered only a few days before the encounter prompted Minnesota Public Radio to poll its listeners with the following question: If an asteroid were to strike Earth within an hour, would you want to know?"

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What did we do, the Lambada? (5, Insightful)

mellon (7048) | about 2 years ago | (#42269591)

I know writing headlines is hard, but this one seems to imply that earth took evasive action. The less exciting "earth does not collide with pair of asteroids" would be a touch less misleading.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (4, Funny)

mug funky (910186) | about 2 years ago | (#42269655)

barrel roll.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (0)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 2 years ago | (#42270213)

Shoulder roll.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270347)

Sausage roll.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (2)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about 2 years ago | (#42270411)

Sausage roll

Satellite fly-by to asteroid 4179 Toutatis (4, Informative)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#42270621)

There will be a human-made satellite that will engage in a fly-by to asteroid 4179 Toutatis

The satellite is China's Chang'e 2 and it will rendezvous with 4179 Toutatis.

There are two conflicting reports of the rendezvous date -

According to wikipedia the rendezvous date will be 13th December 2012 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4179_Toutatis [wikipedia.org]

According to another source - http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2012/20120614-change-2-toutatis.html [planetary.org] - the rendezvous date will fall on 6th, January, 2013.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42269661)

It's a common use of the word avoid. Why would you even bring it up? Nothing implies the Earth did anything.

On the other hand, I do object to TFS mixing "miles" and "lunar lengths" instead of a single unit when describing the closest distance of the asteroids.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (2)

RabidTimmy (1415817) | about 2 years ago | (#42269939)

While the article does initially use miles on the nearer asteroid, it does immediately translate it into lunar lengths.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270157)

It's a common use of the word avoid. Why would you even bring it up? Nothing implies the Earth did anything.

Because the common use of the word avoid implies it WAS going to collide, but then something changed and it did not. While mixing units is MUCH more commonly done, and not technically wrong just a pain to do the conversions.

But the real answer to the parent is that a bunch of Mayan Doomsday wingnuts were dead convinced that it was going to wipe out the planet and the Mystical Magical Mayan Men had predicted it with their calendar. So in that sense yes, we "avoided" a collision (by doing nothing) but back in Reality it's just business as usual.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (2)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42270611)

It's a common use of the word avoid. Why would you even bring it up? Nothing implies the Earth did anything.

Because the common use of the word avoid implies it WAS going to collide, but then something changed and it did not. While mixing units is MUCH more commonly done, and not technically wrong just a pain to do the conversions.

Not really. If you say "the child ran out into the road without looking and narrowly avoided being run down by an eighteen wheel truck" it doesn't imply that the child or the truck did anything to avoid the collision, it was just lucky their paths didn't cross, as here with Earth and the asteroids.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (4, Interesting)

Natales (182136) | about 2 years ago | (#42269925)

Whatever flashy headline was used to attract readers to the fact that there are potentially *a lot* of undetected large objects that could wipe us out was worth it. I mean, this is serious shit, and we are NOT taking it seriously enough. Believing we have it covered or it won't happen for 600 years is not good enough. Even Stephen Hawkins has brought this up before. We are seating ducks unless we "diversify our investments", meaning going out there and colonize other planets. It took millions of years and many extinction cycles to get us where we are as an intelligent species, and now we have to think big to survive. Honestly, I'd expect this crowd in Slashdot to really understand the implications. This issue needs to be at least high-er in the priority list of what we spend money in.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#42270057)

we are NOT taking it seriously enough.

Actually, we are. A 50-165 foot asteroid can sneak up on us, but that isn't going to do much. It has less energy than the 9.0 Fukushima Earthquake, which killed ~10,000 people. If you count up all the people that die everywhere on Earth, that is about two hours worth of deaths. It just isn't worth worrying about anything that small. For big ELE asteroids, we have those tracked well enough that we would likely have years of warning, more than enough time to interdict.

We are seating ducks unless we "diversify our investments", meaning going out there and colonize other planets.

Once we get off this rock, the dumbest thing we could do is establish colonies in another planet's gravity well. It would be much smarter to build the colonies on ... near earth asteroids. We could even use some nukes to brake one of them enough to bring it into Earth orbit. Then we could disassemble it and use it as raw material to construct O'Neill Cylinders [wikipedia.org] . An asteroid three miles in diameter could provide about 50 billion tons of iron that could be forged into structural steel using focused sunlight.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (3, Interesting)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#42270151)

We'd be better off setting up a train of a couple dozen colonized asteroids shifting between Earth and Mars orbits using them and a continuous conveyor belt for people, materials and critical resources to and from a Mars Colony. Terraforming Mars then building colonies on icy moons with liquid oceans would scatter us around sufficiently that only a really nasty event might threaten us.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270211)

I like the cut of your jib

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270409)

A foetus won't form properly in zero gravity, so there goes that idea.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (2)

Coisiche (2000870) | about 2 years ago | (#42270551)

Fair point, but O'Neill cylinders have artificial gravity via centrifugal force on their inner surfaces. Research point for someone there to see how much that changes things, but even setting up a workable environment for, say mice, to investigate the effects will probably cost quite a bit.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (1)

terjeber (856226) | about 2 years ago | (#42270685)

the dumbest thing we could do is establish colonies in another planet's gravity well. It would be much smarter to build the colonies on ... near earth asteroids

Slight disagreement, but mostly in agreement. It would however be even dumber to establish colonies outside of a planetary magnetic field, given the rather cheap protection from radiation these provide. At least until we can create habitats that are large enough to them selves protect us from radiation, which is a ways away yet :-)

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270177)

We are seating ducks unless we "diversify our investments",

Hey, even waterfowl need to be directed to their proper place of rest, so I have no problems in seating them appropriately.

It took millions of years and many extinction cycles to get us where we are as an intelligent species, and now we have to think big to survive.

Yes, but unlike previous species who wandered the Earth during those events, we can anticipate and plan for such events. It's highly unlikely that even a "dinosaur" scale event would actually wipe all of Humanity from the planet, although most people (especially City Folk) would be fucked for sure.

This issue needs to be at least high-er in the priority list of what we spend money in.

You're not going to get people to start colonizing based on vague fears of a global extinction event. If you can convince them it's an actual danger at all, they are going to want all those resources pumped into finding ways to detect and divert an asteroid, comet, etc. or find a way to get everybody off the planet and onto some temporary "Ark" type ships prior to a collision. The idea that they are all going to die horribly but humanity will survive elsewhere simply won't satisfy them as a solution, end of story.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270267)

Whatever flashy headline was used to attract readers to the fact that there are potentially *a lot* of undetected large objects that could wipe us out was worth it. I mean, this is serious shit, and we are NOT taking it seriously enough.

The earth lasted this long without being destroyed so yes we can afford to not take large astroid strikes seriously.

Believing we have it covered or it won't happen for 600 years is not good enough.

It is for me. I'm no buddhists monk yet a healthy dose of impermanence certainly takes the edge off.

Even Stephen Hawkins has brought this up before. We are seating ducks unless we "diversify our investments", meaning going out there and colonize other planets.

Stephen Hawking knows what about this topic exactly? Does he give biology lectures too?

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270277)

Why are you are worried about meteors when there could be nearby Earth destroying supernovas or hidden black holes flying through the galaxy? I mean, what are we doing about that?

The answer is a risk-benefit analysis. The probability of a meteor destroying humanity in the next 10,000 years is so infinitesimal that it is a waste of money to research for that purpose. The only reason that space scientists aren't complaining is that they can use the idiotic premise of detecting potentially Earth destroying asteroids to do what they want--study asteroids. And meteors make dramatic movies which convince idiots that they are some sort of threat. They aren't. Stop worrying over stupid shit. Oddly enough, something that is currently causing enormous damage to the planet is ignored because it isn't dramatic enough: climate change.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about 2 years ago | (#42270303)

The probability of a meteor destroying humanity in the next 10,000 years is so infinitesimal that it is a waste of money to research for that purpose.

Ever heard about lottery? We could win!

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (2)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 2 years ago | (#42270447)

Ever heard about lottery? We could win!

This fact still does not justify wasting your money on a lottery ticket.

What if we spent all of our efforts building an astroid shield and a GRB goes off nearby and cooks the planet? If we happen to have won that lottery you would look pretty stupid worrying about asteroids when you should have been building a gamma shield.

Resources are finite. We must all choose our battles carefully based on evidence rather than arbitrary fears or hopes.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270641)

This fact still does not justify wasting your money on a lottery ticket.

Actually the fact that it has already happened and can happen again at any time does justify investing resources in our safety from such a threat. We're talking about survival of the species here, not just an individual.
The mere fact that a devastating asteroid passed near us at less than the distance to the moon is another justification.

What if we spent all of our efforts building an astroid shield and a GRB goes off nearby and cooks the planet? If we happen to have won that lottery you would look pretty stupid worrying about asteroids when you should have been building a gamma shield.

We would not look stupid for worrying about asteroids, we would look stupid for not worrying enough about GRB.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (3, Funny)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42270661)

We are seating ducks

Not quite as good as "escape goat" but still amusing.

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (1)

waynemcdougall (631415) | about 2 years ago | (#42270223)

Earth's next trick is to move 3 million miles farther out from sun to stop that pesky overheating problem

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (1)

hpoul (219387) | about 2 years ago | (#42270301)

well, but your wording is really boring and useless.. it also didn't collide yesterday .. or the day before.. so it's not really the best title for news, since news shouldn't be about things which did NOT happen (there are quite a few things which did NOT happen), but about things that did happen.. so: "asteroids passed close to earth" (or did earth pass by asteroids?) = did happen.. "earth does not collide" = stuff that did not happen..

Re:What did we do, the Lambada? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42270601)

I know writing headlines is hard, but this one seems to imply that earth took evasive action. The less exciting "earth does not collide with pair of asteroids" would be a touch less misleading.

Only if you're an absolutely literal type with no glimmer of subtlety or imagination in your response to the external world.

So, yes, I can see it would be a problem for a lot of slashdotters.

In your sleep (1)

formfeed (703859) | about 2 years ago | (#42270679)

You ever have that feeling that you are falling and then wake up?

Guess what...

Oh yeah, man... (-1, Redundant)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 years ago | (#42269597)

Earth Avoids Collisions With Pair of Asteroids

It's like, you know, the Earth just sort of "swerved" out of the way, and the asteroids just, sort of, kept on truckin'

would I want to know? (3, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#42269603)

Of course! Time for a quick trip to the whorehouse, then a quicker trip to church to get saved.

Re:would I want to know? (2)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#42269671)

Time to go to sleep for me... I read "trip to the warehouse", it was very confusing for a moment... I would do something very similar.

Re:would I want to know? (1)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#42269687)

...Then one of your friend would show up, buy booze, stash peanuts and get his intergallactic hitchhiking device!

Re:would I want to know? (2)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#42270161)

For the love of Pete! Where's your towel? You can't go anywhere without a bloody towel.

Re:would I want to know? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42269705)

While I'm sure many churches would be open and accepting the flock, I'm not sure the prostitutes would bother staying "open" for business unless they REALLY liked their job.

Re:would I want to know? (1)

EdIII (1114411) | about 2 years ago | (#42269933)

I'm not into the whole church thing. Too irrational and I think sci-fi is better story telling.

An hour is not enough to get the whorehouse from where I am, but plenty of time to get on the net, pants around my ankles, and hell to rationing the lube....

Re:would I want to know? (4, Funny)

drkim (1559875) | about 2 years ago | (#42270021)

Of course! Time for a quick trip to the whorehouse, then a quicker trip to church to get saved.

After what that priest did to me, I'm gonna have to pray with the hooker...

Re:would I want to know? (3, Insightful)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#42270179)

Actually knowing could be very useful, depending on the size of the object and the impact site. You might be able to get to high ground to avoid a tsunami. You might be able to hang out in a cavern to avoid debris fall. You could even renting a plane or catching a quick flight if any were still available. This all presumes an impact significantly smaller than an ELE.

Re:would I want to know? (2)

adolf (21054) | about 2 years ago | (#42270461)

Actually knowing could be very useful, depending on the size of the object and the impact site. You might be able to get to high ground to avoid a tsunami. You might be able to hang out in a cavern to avoid debris fall. You could even renting a plane or catching a quick flight if any were still available. This all presumes an impact significantly smaller than an ELE.

Or, you know: Just use the opportunity to finally call up Dude to buy some smack, bang it with whatever filthy apparatus is available, and then go drive downtown and pay however-much cash the ATM will dish out to facefuck a crackwhore as the fireballs rain down.

In an end-of-your-world scenario, nothing is sacred.

Re:would I want to know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270203)

Of course! Time for a quick trip to the whorehouse, then a quicker trip to church to get saved

Like the gals at your local whorehouse couldn't find any thing/one better to do with their last hour than fornicate with your sorry ass.

With 52 1/2 minutes remaining you discover your friendly local whorehouse was empty. By now everyone knows and you are stuck in bumper to bumper traffic for at least another 30 minutes making way to your standing room only church.

This leaves 22 1/2 minutes remaining to ponder how stupid you think god really is. I mean dude...like his holyness would not know about your plans or what you just posted to slashdot...

Perhaps you figure he would be so busy tending to floods of new admissions into his kingdom that you could just slide by unnoticed?

Precursor to planet 13? (0)

ayahner (696000) | about 2 years ago | (#42269609)

Uh. I mean 12

If an asteroid were to strike Earth within an hour (3, Insightful)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#42269651)

I would definitely want to know. I would leave work, buy booze and party like there is no tomorrow.

Re:If an asteroid were to strike Earth within an h (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42269703)

And that is diffrent than any other friday, how?

Re:If an asteroid were to strike Earth within an h (1)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#42269739)

the leaving work before the end of work day is different, and I dont drink much booze nowadays.

Re:If an asteroid were to strike Earth within an h (1)

jamesh (87723) | about 2 years ago | (#42269709)

Did you write that sig especially for TFA?

Re:If an asteroid were to strike Earth within an h (1)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#42269723)

No, pun not intended...

Re:If an asteroid were to strike Earth within an h (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42269811)

everyone else would too and you'd all die stuck in traffic

Re:If an asteroid were to strike Earth within an h (1)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#42269833)

Since I live in a remote rural area, you are right, everyone else would be stuck in traffic. I (and my fellow ruralers) would laugh and enjoy booze!

Re:If an asteroid were to strike Earth within an h (4, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#42269851)

I would definitely want to know. I would leave work, buy booze and party like there is no tomorrow.

But there would almost certainly be a tomorrow. The asteroid was only 50-165 feet in diameter. That is about the estimated size of the Tunguska asteroid/comet, which killed zero people. Even if an asteroid that size hit the ocean or a major city, 99.9% of the people on Earth would survive.

If we were hit by the bigger (three mile diameter) asteroid, it would only have 1/8th the energy of the Yucatan asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. Unlike the dinos, we have the ability to eat canned food and stored grain, so many if not most people would likely survive.

Re:If an asteroid were to strike Earth within an h (5, Insightful)

thej1nx (763573) | about 2 years ago | (#42270121)

I suppose unlike the dinosaurs, we can also survive for a long long time without needing to breathe? Cretaceous atmosphere is supposed to have been much more oxygen rich(50% more apparently) based on QMS analysis of ancient air bubbles trapped in amber. The higher oxygen content plausibly explains the huge sizes attained by many species too(since the related metabolism could be supported back then). I suppose the said 99.9% of the people of earth will all evolve overnight to make do with 50% less oxygen again? How about no sunlight for years? Stored grains and canned food will support you for years, with crop failures?

Also keep in mind, that all the dried dead plants from lack of sunlight will give rise to plenty of inflammable carbon fuel lying around. We are talking about a world wide wildfire. It is interesting how some people think of meteorite as something like a huge nuke, that will kill everything directly/instantly.

Close calls like these do need to be made as sensational as possible, to remind people how important it is to not put all your eggs in one basket, and why cutting NASA's budget is like deciding to do away with life jackets on a ship, so as to "not waste money".

Re:If an asteroid were to strike Earth within an h (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270035)

Just imagine a society where people would act like this _without_ any threat. Every Day... Paradise is possible!

Re:If an asteroid were to strike Earth within an h (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270457)

There is an asteroid about to hit Earth within an hour.
It'll evaporate in the upper atmosphere within seconds of coming into said atmosphere.

Enjoy, and regards to your boss.

Evasive pattern alpha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42269667)

Evasive pattern alpha. Works every time.

Just call me if an asteroid is about to hit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42269681)

I'll just jerk off to the thoughts of Lady Gaga and her 10 inch dick violating Justin Bieber's virgin pussy, bleeding uncontrollably, and my cumshot will be more than powerful enough to eject any potential earthbusters from gaining entry into the atmosphere.

Re:Just call me if an asteroid is about to hit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42269749)

qft

Re:Just call me if an asteroid is about to hit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270083)

qft

quit fucking trolling ?

Re:Just call me if an asteroid is about to hit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270095)

you forgot to mention taking copious amounts of pervert powder (ask McAfee)

Thank god... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42269689)

Thank god there is no one out there messing with that thing. Just imagine a bunch of mischievous deities/aliens going "Wouldn't it be interesting to see what happens with those 7 billion humans if we just moved the trajectory if this rock just a wee bit in this direction? - No wait let's let them develop another four years and do it then, haha..." (much the same way we point magnifying lenses at ants)

Re:Thank god... (2)

mrbester (200927) | about 2 years ago | (#42270027)

Prior art: Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

Arbitrary Rule of Thumb (1)

xav_jones (612754) | about 2 years ago | (#42269695)

If it's further out than the moon, I tend not to be bothered. Less than that and I count it a near miss and get a little adrenaline kick as if I have just avoided a car accident. So, when are we getting some sort of asteroid defence system up there?

Re:Arbitrary Rule of Thumb (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42269927)

So, when are we getting some sort of asteroid defence system up there?

Soon as you can convince the Republicans there's oil on asteroids, of course.

Re:Arbitrary Rule of Thumb (3, Funny)

Narnie (1349029) | about 2 years ago | (#42270081)

I'm worried that if you tell Republicans there's oil in asteroids, they'd try to have them delivered to Texas.

Re:Arbitrary Rule of Thumb (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#42270245)

Soon as you can convince the Republicans there's oil on asteroids, of course.And as long as democrats can milk a few million out of it by "saving the asteroid", you betcha.

It is our kill switch (2)

louzer (1006689) | about 2 years ago | (#42269701)

Just in case human beings go psycho, somebody in the intergalactic union will press a red button to slightly nudge the asteroid.

Re:It is our kill switch (1)

korpique (807933) | about 2 years ago | (#42269837)

the continued existence of a universe is based on its ability to produce complex structures without intelligence that would find out how to collapse it and use that as a weapon. The best protection against intelligence getting too far is a steady rate of catastrophic events. As universes get older, their contents get more evenly distributed and catastrophic events get less frequent, opening the odds up for their eventual demise.

Obligatory Mayan apocalypse (2)

blagfast (2768813) | about 2 years ago | (#42269737)

And all the while everyone here thought the good Mayan folks were full of BS!

Fearmongering much? (4, Informative)

LordLucless (582312) | about 2 years ago | (#42269751)

I guess "Asteroid Misses Earth, Just Like It's Done Every 4 Years For Millennia" just wasn't catchy enough

Surprising number (4, Interesting)

Grayhand (2610049) | about 2 years ago | (#42269759)

In the last 20 years there have been quite a few of these objects passing within the orbit of the moon, prior to that there were few announcements and it's debatable how many were actually tracked. A disturbing number have been found within days as passing and a few were found after they passed. Just looking at the numbers I'd place the odds at high of an impact. We're coming up on a hundred year anniversary of Tunguska so I'd say we're due for a similar impact any day now. It could be tomorrow or a hundred years from now but statistically we're due now. We aren't talking end of the world because most of the world was only affected by the dust of the last major impact and the odds of one hitting a major city are similar to winning the lottery. Unfortunately the odds are high of an ocean impact and that could be worse than a land impact. Very few of these objects are being tracked in the northern hemisphere and virtually none in the lower hemisphere, I can't remember but I think it's a few percent for the south. We spend trillions on defending against Arab rednecks and a few million a year on tracking near Earth Objects. Our priorities are sadly are on the wrong threats.

Re:Surprising number (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42269823)

I think that's what this strange company Planetary Resources wants to do, according to their website. They want to wait for these asteroids to fly by our planet to study and mine them as they come. Hopefully, diverting the dangerous ones is also a part of their plan.

Re:Surprising number (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270243)

Personally, I think the lack of funding for "asteroid defense" techniques (as opposed to military spending) is a matter of spending money on something they understand versus spending it on something they don't understand at all, (ironically, of course. If we don't study the possibilities, we'll continue to be ignorant) Those making the decisions about spending have absolutely no clue whatsoever about what to do if an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. Hell, half of them couldn't tell you what an asteroid IS.
Even those studying the situation are at odds about what would work and what wouldn't (which is why we need the funding). It's all theories until we actually test some of these ideas (preferably on an asteroid that is not going to hit us) and even then, the individual, widely-varying asteroid composition has a lot to do with the end result.

They understand exactly how to kill people, so that's where they spend their money.

Re:Surprising number (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270395)

Just looking at the numbers I'd place the odds at high of an impact. We're coming up on a hundred year anniversary of Tunguska so I'd say we're due for a similar impact any day now. It could be tomorrow or a hundred years from now but statistically we're due now.

We're not 'due' for anything. The fact that a devastating impact didn't happen yesterday does not increase the odds that it will happen today, it's not as if somebody decides to send an astroid in our direction because he looks on his impact calendar and decides it's been quiet for too long. If every day has an equal likelyhood of a devastating impact happening the average outcome will reflect that likelyhood without days or impacts infuencing each other.

heck yea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42269771)

Heck yes I would! I need to go pick up more ammo from academy.

Wow! (5, Funny)

El Puerco Loco (31491) | about 2 years ago | (#42269783)

Earth's cat-like reflexes never fail to impress.

Pretty remarkable how many there are (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#42269785)

I figured objects getting so close would be a very infrequent occurrence and at that range gravity would surely pull the object into us. I'm not sure if it's good news that objects have to get much closer to get sucked in or bad news that we're seeing so many near misses.

Re:Pretty remarkable how many there are (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270335)

Don't let this kind of news affect your peace of mind. These insights into what's going on don't change the fact that devastating impacts on earth are so rare that it's highly unlikely you will be affected by one.

Nice Title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42269787)

Wow, we never got his by two astroids. I also never got eaten by elephants, painted green or suffered PTSD from my tour in Iraq. During the same time, Earth also avoided becoming square in shape, changing it's color to purple, mutating into a giant donut, being hit by two million other astroids, avoided collapsing and many other things. Perhaps the title should have been given some grammatical thought and reworded such as "Earth narrowly Avoids Collisions With Pair of Asteroids" or "Astroids pass close to earth". /dn
"My Alligator repellant must be working. I have been attacked by Alligators on Whistler mountain in nearly 25 years"

I'd want to know... (1)

LMahesa (1582059) | about 2 years ago | (#42269815)

If it was known that an Extinction Level Event was headed our way and had a fair to high chance of actually happening, I'd want to know... however, I fully understand WHY we wouldn't be told.

Re:I'd want to know... (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | about 2 years ago | (#42270009)

We'd be told. Stuff big enough to wipe us out is easily visible to amateur astronomers. Just one of those having a moral system that dictates he must tell, or one that will enjoy kicking off the worldwide orgy of sex and murder, and it's out there. The government would have the choice between telling themselves before the amateurs get it out there, in a way they choose, or making it a failed coverup attempt.

What do you suppose they'll pick?

Re:I'd want to know... (3, Interesting)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#42270045)

I would dare say that I don't think there are very many extinction-level type events could plausibly happen anytime in the foreseeable future which could also wipe out the human race unless the incident were also actually detrimental to the entire physiology of the planet. I do not think that a collision of the magnitude that led to the wiping out the dinosaurs, for instance, would have the same effect on us. Certainly no small number of people would die, but I do believe humanity itself would endure.

My reasoning is simply this. We have intellect. Dinosaurs did not.

Re:I'd want to know... (3, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#42270511)

If it was known that an Extinction Level Event was headed our way and had a fair to high chance of actually happening, I'd want to know... however, I fully understand WHY we wouldn't be told.

It wasn't. It's crappy journalism, that's all. There was a small asteroid that we didn't know about that got pretty close and that wouldn't have done anything serious had it hit us, and then there was Toutatis with its horse-shoe orbit that gets it close to Earth, but nowhere near enough to hit us, and we know that at least for several centuries, it shouldn't. You know, celestial mechanics is, after all, one of the exactest sciences that we've ever had. Someone simply mixed these two things in their mind, and many readers still do, it seems. Even here, which is a shame.

Re:I'd want to know... (1)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about 2 years ago | (#42270597)

I'd want to know if the knowledge would allow for sufficient preparation. If scientists found out about the impactor only hours before impact, I'd treat it as an unexpectedly massive earthquake. Neither would I want to know if the astral body is a wandering black hole and cannot be deflected even if its approach was known years in advance. Better die in peace.

I'd want to know if the asteroid is of manageable size and there's a rat's ass chance that we can petition our respective governments to stop all their goddamn wars and spend the global defense budget diverting the asteroid with multiple space missions that provide for back-up plans in case mission A fails.

8 Days Early (5, Funny)

wadeal (884828) | about 2 years ago | (#42269859)

It's not the 21st yet...

Re:8 Days Early (2)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#42269965)

And they were off by 139,500 miles!

Re:8 Days Early (4, Funny)

mrbester (200927) | about 2 years ago | (#42270033)

Be thankful for the rounding error.

Pair of Asteroids missed Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42269957)

Unless Earth altered course, or wobbled or whatever to not get hit. Avoidance is an active skill... getting missed is just lucky.

WWIII (2)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#42269959)

It sounds like if there is a World War 3 and any humanity manages to survive, we will be extinct in 600 years since WWIII will probably set us back far enough that we will not have the means to stop the 4179 Toutatis when it comes around for the last time.

reality check (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42269967)

quick. You have an hour to live. What is suddenly important? Finishing the cover page of your tpms report? Rebalancing your portfolio to survive the fiscal cliff? Whether you should buy turkey bacon or regular?

Of course not. You go home and hug your wife and kids close. And tell them you love them.

Now. Do you really need a massive rock slamming into the planet to get you to set your priorities? Go home and hug your wife and kids and tell them you love them.

Quit worrying. START LIVING.

T

Asterix and Obelix (4, Interesting)

chthon (580889) | about 2 years ago | (#42269993)

You know that the Gauls in Asterix are only afraid of the sky falling on their head. And their favorite exclamation is 'By Toutatis!'.

Re:Asterix and Obelix (1)

Adeptus_Luminati (634274) | about 2 years ago | (#42270129)

WOW! 25 years after reading the entire book series (several times over)... you point out this astonishing fact I had never before realized!

2012 averted (1)

wakeboarder (2695839) | about 2 years ago | (#42270001)

Aren't they a few days early? This 2012 thing is turning out to be more like Y2K

Re:2012 averted (1)

wilhoitm (2794165) | about 2 years ago | (#42270217)

No, they were not a few days early! Yesterday was 12/12/12 ! :o Let's hope we don't have more surprises on 12/21/12!

I would like to know (1)

infidel_heathen (2652993) | about 2 years ago | (#42270067)

If an asteroid was going to strike the Earth in a few hours, I would want to know, so I can start drinking shitload of scotch. I am definitely not dying sober.

that was probably... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270091)

...the north korean satellite which went out of control!

It will happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270113)

This was the cataclysmic impact which could have happened. It was told to Camping by the ancient Mayan Gods. Just wait, it will happen sooner or later.

Ask the Magic 8 Ball. (1)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about 2 years ago | (#42270201)

The fact that 2012 XE5 was discovered only a few days before the encounter prompted Minnesota Public Radio to poll its listeners with the following question: If an asteroid were to strike Earth within an hour, would you want to know?"

Seriously, would it really matter? That said, assuming that were to happen, yes--I would personally like to know, so if I am one of the only few remaining survivors I would at least know what just happened and what the fuck is going on. But if you end up dying in an hour with everyone else, it's not like it matters much.

Any good sources on that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270215)

That's strange. Searching for 2012 XE5 only leads to news from questionable sites.
Is there anything like NASA reporting on that issue?

We need an urban Tunguska to wake us up (3, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 2 years ago | (#42270219)

Obviously over your city, not mine.

Sadly, it's essentially career ending for a politician to support funding for "crazy stuff" like asteroid detection or diversion. Perhaps if they claimed they'd received it as a revelation from their favourite brand of Invisible Sky Giant it might be considered rational though.

Too early. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270229)

Of course they missed, it’s not 2012/12/21 yet. Duh.

How is this news? (3, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#42270291)

Earth Avoids Collisions With Pair of Asteroids

This has been happening every day for years.

"Lunar Length" ?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270435)

"Lunar Length" ?!
You made that meaningless term up, didn't you.

Re:"Lunar Length" ?! (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#42270527)

It means the mean distance between Earth and Moon. In this case, it "missed" us by seven million km. Hardly worth mentioning, if you ask me. It's already been much closer to Earth than that, and for quite some time, it's not going to approach us nowhere nearly that close.
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