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Big Asteroid (With Its Own Moon) To Have Closest Approach With Earth Today

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the everybody-wave dept.

Space 87

An anonymous reader writes "Asteroid 1998 QE2 has an estimated diameter of 2.7 km. This asteroid will have a close approach with Earth at about 15.2 LD (Lunar Distances = ~384,000 kilometers) or 0.0392 AU (1 AU = ~150 million kilometers) at 2059 UT on 2013 May 31 and it will reach the peak magnitude ~10.8 on May 31 around 2300 UT." Radar images of the asteroid taken Wednesday show that 1998 QE2 has its own tiny moon, about 600 meters wide. Phil Plait explained how the images were taken, and what further information we gleaned from them. 'The very presence of the moon is a good thing. By measuring how long it takes to go around the primary, the mass of the primary can be found using math known for centuries (the more massive the big asteroid, the faster the moon will go around it at a given distance). We also know the size of the primary, so that means we can find its density, and therefore what it’s made of (probably mostly rock).'

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Thats no moon... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876247)

It's a space station!

Re:Thats no moon... (1)

fishbonz (246374) | about a year ago | (#43876313)

Thats no moon

Re:Thats no moon... (1)

Falkentyne (760418) | about a year ago | (#43877323)

That's too big to be.. no wait that's actually a good size.

Re:Thats no moon... (2)

Striikerr (798526) | about a year ago | (#43876315)

I sense something.. a joke I have not heard since... a few days ago...

Re:Thats no moon... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876589)

It's all fun and games until this thing slams into Uranus next year.

Re:Thats no moon... (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about a year ago | (#43881389)

I sense something.. a joke I have not heard since... a few days ago...

Like millions nerds all went "uuuurrrrrrhhhhhh", and were suddenly silenced.

Re:Thats no moon... (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43876937)

with its baby space-station. How cute!

Re:Thats no moon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877721)

That's no moon... It's the face of a butt-ugly guy!

Armageddon 2 (0)

Kyokugenryu (817869) | about a year ago | (#43876283)

Because it has a moon, does that mean Bruce Willis will need a sidekick to take it out?

Yo dawg I heard you like asteroids (4, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#43876287)

So I put an asteroid on your asteroid, so you can watch a flyby while you're watchin' a flyby!

Your asteroid is so fat... (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#43876583)

It's got another asteroid orbiting it

Re:Yo dawg I heard you like asteroids (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43879083)

You sound just like a nigger.

Re:Yo dawg I heard you like asteroids (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43879811)

You sound just like a nigger

Re:Yo dawg I heard you like asteroids (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43879839)

You sound just like a nigger..

Re:Yo dawg I heard you like asteroids (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43879845)

You sound just like a nigger...

Re:Yo dawg I heard you like asteroids (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43879857)

You sound just like a nigger!

Re:Yo dawg I heard you like asteroids (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43879867)

You sound just like a nigger .

Re:Yo dawg I heard you like asteroids (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43879907)

You sound just like a nigger ..

Re:Yo dawg I heard you like asteroids (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43880369)

You sound just like a nigger ...

Re:Yo dawg I heard you like asteroids (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43881169)

You sound just like a nigger....

Re:Yo dawg I heard you like asteroids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43881175)

You sound just like a nigger.....

Well (4, Funny)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#43876299)

(probably mostly rock).

At least it's not some kind of smooth alternative. But I was hoping for something heavier, maybe with metal influences.

Re:Well (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#43876341)

This one uses grandpa's guitars. It's for pussies...and grandpas.

Re:Well, the "moon" is reflective (2)

NReitzel (77941) | about a year ago | (#43876785)

Gee, that moon sure is reflective of radar. Almost like it was specular and made of metal.

Re:Well (1)

aliquis (678370) | about a year ago | (#43879755)

Read with stereotypical (?) japanese advertising voice:
"Happy hardcore asteroida!"

Jazz/whatevermusicstylecannabissmokersenjoy asteroid.

"The asteroid appear to be chipping ..."! ;D

Start worry at imperial march.

Any luck... (1)

Arkh89 (2870391) | about a year ago | (#43876415)

... that the tidal gravitational wave of Earth/Moon will disrupt the small couple?

Re:Any luck... (2)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a year ago | (#43876579)

... that the tidal gravitational wave of Earth/Moon will disrupt the small couple?

Shut it... You just gave Michael Bay a terrible idea for a disaster movie.

Re:Any luck... (3, Insightful)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#43876661)

No, not much chance of that. Gravity, like other forms of energy, falls off according to the inverse square rule. If object B is twice as far away as object A it is only attracted at 1/4 (1/2^2) the force. Object C is five times further away as Object A, only gets attracted 1/25th as much (1/5^2). These are far enough away that their mutual gravity is a much stronger force than that of the Earth/Moon system, so our gravity applies effectively equal force on both objects. Clear as mud?

Re:Any luck... (1)

Arkh89 (2870391) | about a year ago | (#43876699)

Nope that's clear. Although, I wouldn't expect it to crash on my house but rather I should re-phrase : is it possible to see a change in the elliptic trajectory while it is passing next to us?

Re:Any luck... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year ago | (#43877401)

Well, you really need to replace "force" with "acceleration" in your explanation. Because if "our gravity applies effectively equal force on both objects", then the smaller object is going to accelerate away from the larger object quite nicely...

Re:Any luck... (0)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#43877745)

Yup, was distracted and couldn't think of the right word. Figured someone would correct me eventually :-)

Re:Any luck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43880217)

What if there's no other object to compare the effect on the 1st one?

Re:Any luck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877379)

Celestial divorces are explosive stuff to the by-standers.

mod do3n (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876471)

consider worthwWhile everything else that they sideline was at the same

You 1nsensitive cl0d!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876555)

posTs. Therefore [goat.cx]

Re:You 1nsensitive cl0d!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43879831)

No wedding ring? That is a gross oversight. :o(

Intellible units... (3, Informative)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about a year ago | (#43876659)

15.2 LD (Lunar Distances = ~384,000 kilometers) or 0.0392 AU (1 AU = ~150 million kilometers)

Or maybe we could just say "around four million miles" and be done with it. Add in the metric conversion if you want, but really, do we need an explication of "AU" and "LD" for this story? Just convert it to human readable format. It's one of those things that "journalists" do...

Re:Intellible units... (1)

nielsm (1616577) | about a year ago | (#43877007)

On the other hand, the comparison to the Moon's distance is useful. "It's more than 15 times further away than the moon" gives a good point of comparison. It certainly makes it clearer to me that there's no risk it will hit anything we should care about.

Re:Intellible units... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877117)

On the other hand, the comparison to the Moon's distance is useful. "It's more than 15 times further away than the moon" gives a good point of comparison. It certainly makes it clearer to me that there's no risk it will hit anything we should care about.

How many Rhode Islands is that?

Re:Intellible units... (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#43877245)

How many Rhode Islands is that?

It depends on how big they are [wikimedia.org] , but offhand, I'd say a lot.

Re:Intellible units... (1)

gv250 (897841) | about a year ago | (#43877277)

A Rhode Island is a unit of area. You're looking for football fields.

Re:Intellible units... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877307)

I wont understand until it is converted to Library of Congresses.

Re:Intellible units... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about a year ago | (#43877671)

I agree, but I would have said "Around four million miles (roughly 15 times as far as the moon)".

I'm "geeky" enough to know that one "LD" is about a quarter-million miles, but most people don't know that. And even I don't want to get the info in those units. It's just awkward.

PS: BTW, I seem to be missing a "gi" in my subject line... I meant to say "intelligible", not intellible. ;-)

Re:Intellible units... (3, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#43877251)

Scientific units are basically metric, those are the intellible units, not the arbitrary cultural ones that are used just for 3 or 4 countries in all the world. And putting the distance in lunar distances (or, maybe, Earth diameters that are around 12000km) puts in the right perspective how far they will be and how little we should worry about them, at least this pass (should you worry about a collision if a grain of sand passes 1km away from you at the closest point?)

Re:Intellible units... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43878541)

Scientific units are basically metric, those are the intellible units, not the arbitrary cultural ones that are used just for 3 or 4 countries in all the world.

Of course, metric is not some arbitrary cultural unit used in just 3 or 4 countries, it is a different set of arbitrary cultural units used in 100+ countries. Metric is still arbitrary, just with unit conversions structured to be much easier for a base-10 centric human to do conversions.

Re:Intellible units... (2)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#43880037)

The "base" unit, i.e. the meter, is arbitrary. What is not arbitrary are the proportions between different escales on the same dimension. Just power of ten converts between different ways to measure lenght, as opposed as the extra arbitrary requirements that are conversion between inches, feets, miles, yards, and so on. And it scales to other dimensions too, like volume (1 lt=a cube of 10 cubic cm), weight (1kg=the weight 1 lt of water at 0C, etc), and more, not extra arbitraty measures like gallon, pint, acres, ounces or pounds. Take 1 arbitraty unit, and some very universal element (water) and you have enough to know how much is a lot of units. But for imperials most of those are arbitrary (and by now, the "right" definition of most of them is be done relative to metric).

Re:Intellible units... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43881039)

The second, based on an arbitrary value of oscillations of a particular atomic line to match historic units; the meter, based on an arbitrary amount of distance traveled by light to match historic units; the ampere, based on some arbitrary amount of force between two current carrying wires (to potentially be redefined, but still to match a historic value); the kilogram, based on an arbitrary physical mass (to potentially be replaced by a new definition, with arbitrary factor to match historic values); the mole, an amount of particles to make an arbitrary element match a certain mass; the Kelvin, defined by a universal triple point of water, but with an arbitrary factor to match the historic values for water phase change at some particular pressure; and the candela, which is pretty much just a historic unit with an updated definition.

As said, it is all pretty arbitrary but with conversion factors more convenient to our culture (as opposed to cultures that had base 20 or base 60 math). It mostly comes down to convenience,which is how there are still many non-SI units used in science, some of which have a much more universal, non-arbitrary nature to them, others which do not. And if you are not going to bother with prefixes, then metric loses a lot of its advantages, and becomes another arbitrary unit system.

Re:Intellible units... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887833)

Base 20 and 60 don't even explain imperial. And the "dropped prefixes" argument only works if you pick only one unit of imperial measure and thereafter refer to it in decimal proportions. Miles, feet, or inches, pick one, and use it for volumes as well, and don't use pound for both mass and weight. Then you're fine.

But you know for a fact that's not how the imperial system is used.

(and the number of countries who use these units is dreadfully relevant. If the US converted to metric, a lot of problems would disappear).

Re:Intellible units... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43888739)

And the "dropped prefixes" argument only works if you pick only one unit of imperial measure and thereafter refer to it in decimal proportions.

You mean like miles in astronomy?

Re:Intellible units... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882461)

Try asking a cgs fan about the arbitrariness of mks some time, and you will get an ear full of talk about electrical units and why many equations have constants that are not needed due to the desire to keep old electrical units. And for at least the fields I've worked in, the litre is viewed as a random unit of sorts, because a 10 cm cube is kind of pointless, while the more natural volume unit is either a cm^3 or m^3.

Re:Intellible units... (1)

invid (163714) | about a year ago | (#43877545)

AU is fairly common when discussing distances within a solar system. If you play Eve Online it is a unit of measure you are familiar with. If the asteroid was tree shaped it would be really familiar to an Eve player.

Re:Intellible units... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about a year ago | (#43877763)

I'm quite familiar with the "AU" unit. But it's not a very useful measure to most folks when the value is 0.0392. Might as well measure it in rods or furlongs or cubits...

Re:Intellible units... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43878215)

But it's not a very useful measure to most folks when the value is 0.0392. Might as well measure it in rods or furlongs or cubits...

Since you ask, it's equal to approximately 2.65 million rod-furlongs per cubit. (Or 76.5 billion hogsheads per fathom-smoot, if you want it in more familar terms.)

Don't you just love dimensional analysis?

Re:Intellible units... (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | about a year ago | (#43879909)

I was expecting to find that the item orbiting the asteroid would be tree shaped perhaps. That would be a great find :)

I want my Archon :)

Re:Intellible units... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43881151)

but really, do we need an explication of "AU" and "LD" for this story?

Hey, some of us need an explication of explication.

Re:Intellible units... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43881625)

15.2 LD (Lunar Distances = ~384,000 kilometers) or 0.0392 AU (1 AU = ~150 million kilometers)

Or maybe we could just say "around four million miles" and be done with it. Add in the metric conversion if you want, but really, do we need an explication of "AU" and "LD" for this story? Just convert it to human readable format. It's one of those things that "journalists" do...

The writer is doing his work perfect, he/she uses astronimical units and metric system. Where is the problem?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_system

Re:Intellible units... (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#43882273)

For people who don't already know those things off the top of their heads, it gives them a sense of scale.

Re:Intellible units... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882377)

>15.2 LD (Lunar Distances = ~384,000 kilometers) or 0.0392 AU (1 AU = ~150 million kilometers)

Yeah, this feels like we are going back to 12 inches to a foot and 3 feet to a yard days.

Re:Intellible units... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882905)

The moon is 6 football (American) fields long. Is that better?

Laboratory exercise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876809)

This is neat stuff. I wish we (the world) would start doing more than just remarking on the close approach of these asteroids. Wouldn't it be nice to perform some experiments with gravity tugs. You know, step out of simulation-land for a little bit?

Or collect some samples? Or do a test detonation? Or deposit some extremophiles? ... ?

Sigh.

And are we dropping another rock on Russia? (1)

tekrat (242117) | about a year ago | (#43876881)

During the last asteroid flyby there was a coincidental meteor explosion in the former Soviet Union, caught by hundreds of in-car dash cameras... SAME DAY...

So, I would assume that this flyby should also have an associated and completely unexpected rock from space approaching from the opposite direction and oh, I dunno, wipe out Paris?

I mean, destruction of a major city from space would be horrific and all, but I can't imagine anything joining the world together in unity to create a real space defense (and get us out there and off this rock) than a few million people getting killed at once.

Re:And are we dropping another rock on Russia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877025)

Not going to happen. Even if it did, do you think that space defense would be space defense for very long. We'd have space land security theater pretty soon.

Or perhaps only the rich getting to joyride in the latest flagship or station defending earth as promotional propaganda.

Well it could bootstrap a whole new industry or marketplace. And that would be nice. I say fuck it, lets do it anyway, it's worth the risk =)

Re:And are we dropping another rock on Russia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43878109)

Who are you, Roland Emmerich?

Re:And are we dropping another rock on Russia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877565)

The Russian thing was total coincidence. This is known and your conspiracy theories are for loons.

On the other hand, asteroid caravans are not unheard of. In fact one happened a couple weeks ago [theage.com.au] . I bet you never even heard anything about it? That's the problem with conspiracy loons, they know enough to sound like they know enough to be dangerous but the truth of the matter is that an eight year old could debunk most of their nonsense.

Re:And are we dropping another rock on Russia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877759)

A little soon to jump to your anti-conspiracy guns... I think the guy was just making an offhand remark on how cool it might be to create a defense platform. And how much of a boost some incident like he mentioned would be.

I doubt that there is, or he was referring (not that I could tell) to any active conspiracy.

Re:And are we dropping another rock on Russia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877791)

Unless of course your trying to cover it up...

Re:And are we dropping another rock on Russia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43878219)

So how do you like that four pound dick in your ass?

Re:And are we dropping another rock on Russia? (1)

jalet (36114) | about a year ago | (#43879321)

How much is this in kilograms ?

Re:And are we dropping another rock on Russia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43881187)

So how do you like that four pound dick in your ass?

Not so good. I should have paid a bit more and gotten the upgrade.

Re:And are we dropping another rock on Russia? (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43878223)

I can't imagine anything joining the world together in unity to create a real space defense (and get us out there and off this rock) than a few million people getting killed at once.

You missed the memo. It was in the We The Geeks NASA G+ hangout today. Some folks actually care about the issue enough to put their money and time where their mouth is and thus are actually doing what you propose. [youtube.com]

Re:And are we dropping another rock on Russia? (1)

stjobe (78285) | about a year ago | (#43881937)

You missed the memo. It was in the We The Geeks NASA G+ hangout today. Some folks actually care about the issue enough to put their money and time where their mouth is and thus are actually doing what you propose. [youtube.com]

Thank you for that link!

That Hangout was surprisingly informative, and the panel was excellent; not a dud in there:
Lori Garver, Deputy Administrator, NASA
Bill Nye, Executive Director, Planetary Society
Ed Lu, former astronaut and CEO, B612 Foundation
Peter Diamandis, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman, Planetary Resources
Jose Luis Galache, Astronomer at the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center

Is it slowing down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877097)

Just wondering!

Not moons. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877103)

Its Asteroids all the way down...

Wow 600m (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877113)

That's almost as large as the biggest katamari in Katamari Damashii. That could gobble up cities whole.

Ouch (1)

quax (19371) | about a year ago | (#43877555)

That's one mofo of a planet killer sized asteroid.

Re:Ouch (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43878369)

not really, it would "kill the humans" but not all life. Earth took a 10km asteroid back in the day 65 million years ago and it caused mass extinctions, but still not complete obliteration of the biosphere.

Re:Ouch (1)

quax (19371) | about a year ago | (#43879163)

Yeah, I am just anthropocentric like that.

Re:Ouch (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43883003)

good news for you then, some humans are predicted to survive an impact even of asteroids twice the diameter of this article's one though most would die. Taking a philosophical view, something would "evolute" to take man's place even if all humans wiped out, so why not just care as much about the next kind of people as human ones? I don't see any reason to care more about future humans I''ll never meet as some other kind of people-creature.

Re:Ouch (1)

quax (19371) | about a year ago | (#43883815)

You must not have kids.

Re:Ouch (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43888783)

yes I do

so your telling me you deeply care about your great-great-(twenty times) grandchildren? bullshit. you'll never know them, they're total strangers.

Re:Ouch (1)

quax (19371) | about a year ago | (#43889401)

You only care about people you know personally?

Re:Ouch (1)

booch (4157) | about a year ago | (#43898003)

so your telling me you deeply care about your great-great-(twenty times) grandchildren?

Of course I care about them. Why else would I need my copyright to last so long?

What? Do I have to say it? Okay... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877755)

Trojan Asteroid.. be safe

Re:What? Do I have to say it? Okay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886095)

Earth-grazer, Uranus-grazer? Remember now, it's a protected status [brandishes ROYGBV Gay Pride flag].

Oh my God, I want one (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#43882245)

How cool is this. 1.7 miles of orbiting rock. Let's capture that sucker and bring it where we can use it.

Familiar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886075)

Looks like another 1999 KW4. It's another space turd orbiting a cupcake rubble pile about to spin itself apart.

Asteroid "QE2" (1)

markdowling (448297) | about a year ago | (#43898819)

I'm guessing the "moon" is called Philip?

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