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Earth's Little Brother Found

CowboyNeal posted about 12 years ago | from the heavenly-bodies dept.

Space 432

loconet writes "The BBC is reporting that astronomers have discovered the first object ever that is in a companion orbit to the Earth. Asteroid 2002 AA29 is only about 100 metres wide and never comes closer than 3.6 million miles to our planet."

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god damn it, leroy (-1, Offtopic)

SweetAndSourJesus (555410) | about 12 years ago | (#4500860)

You made me miss my fp.

Bastard.

Re:god damn it, leroy, me too (-1)

The Trolling Troller (579075) | about 12 years ago | (#4500880)


j00r c0mm3nt h4s t00 f3w ch4r4ct3rs p3r l1ne (curr3ntly zoQg)Q
jQQr cQmmfnt hAs tQQ 3fw chArActfrs pfr l|ne (currfntly zQog)o
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I'm sorry, leroy. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500890)

I thought for sure I wasn't going to make it.

Please forgive me for being so quick to react.

You know how these first posts go.

The panic. 20 seconds? Hit submit?

Hoo ha, leroy.

Earth's little brother is a faggot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500872)

Gay as Gore Vidal with a dildo up his arse.

meters, miles... (4, Funny)

targo (409974) | about 12 years ago | (#4500875)

Can't make up your mind of which system to use, huh? :)

Re:meters, miles... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500989)

NASA had the same problem... it only cost them $125 million.

Re:meters, miles... (5, Funny)

bongholio (609944) | about 12 years ago | (#4501047)

You think that's bad? As a student pilot, I've learned that the aviation industry has the biggest problem with unit consistency. Or maybe it's the weather industry... check out a _standard_ weather report...

KGTU 220115Z AUTO 15005KT 10SM OVC005 17/16 A3000 RMK AO1

here's what it all means:
kgtu = georgetown, tx airport
22nd of Oct, 0115Z, automated report
winds 150deg @ 5 KNOTS
visibility 10 STATUTE MILES
clouds overcast at 500 FEET
temperture 17deg CELCIUS, dewpoint 16deg CELCIUS
pressure 30.00 INCHES OF HG
remarks: A01=cannot distinguish liquid from frozen precip...

Anyways, as you just saw, the weather is reported using KNOTS, STATUTE MILES, FEET, CELCIUS, IN of HG. Damn! 3 painfully different systems of measurement.. and it seems the more i learn, the more stuff like this I see... I really wish us stubborn americans would just switch to SI...

Brother? (2, Funny)

fredopalus (601353) | about 12 years ago | (#4500879)

Since it's not a planet, wouldn't it be more like a cousin than a brother.

Re:Brother? (3, Funny)

gornar (572285) | about 12 years ago | (#4500888)

Since it's not a planet, wouldn't it be more like a cousin than a brother.

More like a red-headed stepkid, from the size of it.

Re:Brother? (-1)

Reikk (534266) | about 12 years ago | (#4500897)


yeah, a cousin that's INFESTED with EVIL anal probing [goatse.cx] ALIENS with big buggy eyes!!!

Re:Brother? (3, Funny)

packeteer (566398) | about 12 years ago | (#4500904)

Or the family dog.

Re:Brother? (3, Funny)

hobbesmaster (592205) | about 12 years ago | (#4500977)

Or the family dog
I thought that was pluto.

Offtopic? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4501030)

The /. "Crack" moderation squad is on duty

Re:Brother? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500998)

Hi there. Do you know there are two mistakes in your .sig?

Damn! (3, Funny)

Kierthos (225954) | about 12 years ago | (#4500882)

They found my secret asteroid base! Now I'll have to move it again before I can continue my plans to take over the world!

Kierthos

Re:Damn! (3, Funny)

einhverfr (238914) | about 12 years ago | (#4500942)

They found my secret asteroid base! Now I'll have to move it again before I can continue my plans to take over the world!

Don't let Mr. Ashcroft hear you say that.

Re:Damn! (4, Funny)

PacoTaco (577292) | about 12 years ago | (#4500960)

Why, is it his secret asteroid base?

Re: Damn! (2, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 12 years ago | (#4501053)


> > Don't let Mr. Ashcroft hear you say that.

> Why, is it his secret asteroid base?

No, it's where he hides statues with tits.

Re:Damn! (1)

Xformer (595973) | about 12 years ago | (#4501139)

How do you know he hasn't? Thanks to good ol' PATRIOT...

Re:Damn! (4, Funny)

GuyMannDude (574364) | about 12 years ago | (#4500975)

They found my secret asteroid base! Now I'll have to move it again before I can continue my plans to take over the world!

You should know by now that all your secret asteroid base are belong to us!

GMD

Re:Damn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500985)

It seems that now we are making this joke every time some new asteroid or planet or whatever is found (Here for example [slashdot.org] ). Not that it's unfunny, but I'm ready for new original jokes (yes, on Slashdot of all places.)

It's Too Late... (0, Offtopic)

karmavore (618727) | about 12 years ago | (#4501085)

All your base are belong to us!!

Second Moon (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500884)

Some have speculated that it could be nudged into a permanent Earth orbit where it could be studied at greater length.

Uh, wouldn't that screw up the tidal system?
Interesting idea, though.

Re:Second Moon (2, Insightful)

jfroebe (10351) | about 12 years ago | (#4500899)

No not really. It doesn't have enough mass to make a noticable difference.

jason

Re:Second Moon (1)

karmavore (618727) | about 12 years ago | (#4501153)

While studying it, please also take the time to mine it, hollow it out, and add life support.

Oh, by the way you may be able to generate some extra tourist revenues with a really cool zero G honeymoon resort!

Re:Second Moon (4, Funny)

GuyMannDude (574364) | about 12 years ago | (#4500992)

Some have speculated that it could be nudged into a permanent Earth orbit where it could be studied at greater length.

Uh, wouldn't that screw up the tidal system?

Yeah, but so what? Our species has a track record of fucking up the environment for the sake of profit. At least now we'd be fucking up the environment for the sake of science.

Yes, I'm kidding people. Sheesh...

GMD

Re:Second Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4501152)

Actually the earth has 2 moons [slashdot.org] .

SO WHAT??? (5, Funny)

corebreech (469871) | about 12 years ago | (#4500887)

Wake me up when Earth's little sister is found, and you've got some decent JPEG's.

Re:SO WHAT??? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4501013)

W3rd, bro.

Re:SO WHAT??? (0)

mojowantshappy (605815) | about 12 years ago | (#4501068)

ok.. just curious... how is this insightful? i think funny would be a better adjective.. though i could be wrong, which means i just means i have a dirty mind.

Re:SO WHAT??? (1, Offtopic)

Myco (473173) | about 12 years ago | (#4501142)

My applause to whoever modded this "Insightful." Hee hee.

Only a 'roid? (2, Redundant)

Cyno01 (573917) | about 12 years ago | (#4500889)

Jeez, havn't they found Counter-Earth yet?

Counter Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500909)

Watch out, the Priest Kings will squash you like an 18 foot tall golden bug.

If there is a counter earth for me, I sure hope it is covered with the right kind of linoleum.

Re:Only a 'roid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500945)

Actually, the Counter-Earth configuration would be quite unstable, which is why there isn't one.

No counter earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500987)

Yes. there is no counter-earth. That is what they tell you. Just like the told the Europeans not to sail too far west, the edge is there. No counter earth at all. No need to even look in that corner of space....

Not quite a planet, eh? (0, Interesting)

pla (258480) | about 12 years ago | (#4500892)

Well, I suppose this seems "interesting" at first glance, but I doubt it really counts as such. An asteroid, in a similar orbit to Earths. Whoop-de-do.

Of course, the part I don't get, *why* can't it hit the Earth? In roughly the same orbit around the sun, a much smaller mass has to travel MUCH slower than the Earth to maintain that orbit. So okay, I suppose *we* should hit *it*, rather than the other way around, but still...

Re:Not quite a planet, eh? (5, Interesting)

jamie (78724) | about 12 years ago | (#4500925)

"In roughly the same orbit around the sun, a much smaller mass has to travel MUCH slower than the Earth to maintain that orbit."

No, any object in the same orbital path travels the same velocity.

Think about it this way. If I have a heavy object and a light object orbiting at Earth's distance from the sun, by your hypothesis one will travel faster than the other. So if I duct-tape them together they should travel at a speed somewhere in-between the fast one and the slow one. But the taped-together object masses the sum of both smaller objects so it should travel faster. It can't travel both faster than and slower than its larger half, so the hypothesis can't be right.

OT- Re:Not quite a planet, eh? (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | about 12 years ago | (#4501018)

But if you duct-taped them together and flew McGuyver there, he could invent a warp drive!

(Sorry, couldn't resist)

Re:Not quite a planet, eh? (1)

Myco (473173) | about 12 years ago | (#4501162)

Not that I disagree with your conclusions, but I think your argument is wrong. Obviously, if the two things are duct-taped together, they're going to potentially exert forces on each other -- the faster orbiting one will pull the other one along and so on. Maybe a better analogy would be a bag of marbles -- take away the bag and the marbles don't orbit any faster or slower.

Re:Not quite a planet, eh? (1)

kilonad (157396) | about 12 years ago | (#4500927)

Actually, it would be travelling at pretty much the same speed. In comparison to the sun's mass, both the Earth and this asteroid are tiny, so they'll orbit at roughly the same speed.

Re:Not quite a planet, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500934)

"In roughly the same orbit around the sun, a much smaller mass has to travel MUCH slower than the Earth to maintain that orbit."

No, the orbital speed of the object around the sun won't depend on its mass until it gets so big that its mass is substantial compared to the Sun. It's just like any falling object... see Galileo.

What does affect it, though, is the Earth's gravity, which is what's responsible for that weird horseshoe orbit.

Re:Not quite a planet, eh? (5, Informative)

ocie (6659) | about 12 years ago | (#4500941)

Interesting physics, but Kepler's third law says:

The squares of the periods of the planets are proportional to the cubes of their semimajor axes
(http://home.cvc.org/science/kepler.htm).

So the mass of a planet has nothing to do with its orbital period (well, assuming it is small enough that it doesn't make the sun orbit it). So anything placed at Earth's distance from the sun and moving at the same speed would orbit the sun in the same path the Earth does regaurdless of its mass.

Re:Not quite a planet, eh? (1)

pVoid (607584) | about 12 years ago | (#4501009)

Indeed. And given that this rock is moving ever so slightly faster than the earth, it must be in an ever so slightly tighter orbit around the sun. ...apparently enough to dodge the earth.

Re:Not quite a planet, eh? (5, Informative)

targo (409974) | about 12 years ago | (#4500957)

roughly the same orbit around the sun, a much smaller mass has to travel MUCH slower than the Earth to maintain that orbit.

Wtf? Orbital velocity is a constant that depends only on the mass of the parent body, as long as the orbiting body is significantly lighter.
After all, geosynchronous satellites are all at approximately same height, although they have the same speed (to maintain synch), but different mass.

The formula for calculating orbits is:
T=2*pi*(a+h)/v
where T = period, a = radius of the parent body, h = orbit height, and v = satellite velocity, which can be calculated from:
v = sqrt(g/(a+h)),
where g is gravitational acceleration of the parent body.
You don't see the mass of the satellite anywhere here.

Re:Not quite a planet, eh? (1)

pla (258480) | about 12 years ago | (#4500959)

Doh!

Okay, call me a moron.

I confused centripetal force and orbital velocity.

Guess I earn an "F" in physics for today.

:-(

Re:Not quite a planet, eh? (2)

phliar (87116) | about 12 years ago | (#4500967)

Thus spake pla [slashdot.org] :
In roughly the same orbit around the sun, a much smaller mass has to travel MUCH slower than the Earth to maintain that orbit.
Ye gods! This is false.

Hint: why does a low earth orbit -- like the Space Shuttle's -- always take the same time? Orbital period depends only on the mass of the earth and the radius of the orbit, not of the satellite.

So why won't 2002 AA29 ever hit the earth? Do a google search on the Jovian Trojans. Or look up Lagrange Points. Or just consider the complexity of a three body system.

Re:Not quite a planet, eh? (1)

Kirsten (146187) | about 12 years ago | (#4500979)

, a much smaller mass has to travel MUCH slower than the Earth to maintain that orbit.

I may not have passed my classical mechanics class quite yet, but last I heard orbital speed and orbital mechanics in general are independent of mass of the orbiting body. Something like, if the gravitational force is GMm/r^2=ma, the little "m"s cancel out. And for a circular orbit doesn't a=v^2/R? (not that this orbit is quite circular) yeah.

but then I haven't gotten my midterm grade yet, so don't take my word for it.

Re:Not quite a planet, eh? (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | about 12 years ago | (#4500981)

Think of orbits as though the object were constantly falling. The difference is, the direction in which they are falling is constantly changing.. at a rate that allows it to never lose or gain distance. Anyway, if you think of it as constant falling, you can see how Galileo's experiment with the wooden and metal bowling ball prooves that the planets would orbit at the same speed.

Re:Not quite a planet, eh? (5, Informative)

GreenPhreak (60944) | about 12 years ago | (#4501007)

The reason this discovery is useful and more than 'whoop-de-doo' is because of what was mentioned in the end of the article: it is an extra-terrestrial body that is very close to the Earth. It would not be outside our reach to visit this object with current technology and learn more about the composition of asteroids and other minor planets in the solar system.

It is also intriguing since no 'trojans' have been discovered for the Earth and this could signal that we do in fact have some. Trojans are asteroids that occupy the 4th and 5th Lagrangian points about a larger body (Jupiter has the most, due to its large mass). Because of the physics involved in a 2 body system where any additional bodies have negligible mass compared to the original 2, there are a few 'stable' points where the gravitational forces cancel out...these are known as Lagrangian points. L4 and L5 are co-orbital to the less-massive object (Jupiter, Earth, whatever).

Although this object is not a trojan, since it has a horseshoe orbit and temporarily gets caught up in Earth's orbit, it suggests that there are bodies out there that could be trojans. Perhaps as our detection abilities progress, we will discover some Earth-trojans.

Re:Not quite a planet, eh? (1, Informative)

DirtyJ (576100) | about 12 years ago | (#4501020)

From the description in the article and my knowledge of celestial mechanics, it sounds like this object is effectively bouncing back and forth between Earth's Lagrange points L4 and L5. These are points where the combination of gravitational pull from the Sun and the Earth would have the effect of allowing the object to maintain a stable orbit around the sun in what would otherwise be an unstable position.

Basically, at a given orbital energy, or velocity, and object can orbit at a certain distance from the central mass (the Sun in this case). If it speeds up, it has to move to a smaller orbital radius. If it slows down, it moves to a larger orbital radius. In this case, it sounds like the following may be happening:

(1) The asteroid is moving faster than the Earth, and so travels in a slightly lower orbit. When it gets to one Lagrange point, it will slightly overrun it, and the Earth's pull will send it to a higher orbit, stealing some of its kinetic energy. It then slows down and the Earth speeds away from it.

(2) The now slower-moving, higher-orbiting asteroid moves backward with respect to the Earth, until the Earth catches up to it until it overruns the other Lagrange point. When that happens, the Earth pulls it into a lower, more energetic orbit, and it proceeds to speed away from the Earth.

(3) go back to #1 and repeat.

During the brief time that the Earth's influence on the asteroid is greater than that of the Sun, the asteroid technically becomes a satellite of the Earth.

I could be wrong about all this, but at first read, this was how I interpreted things...

Re:Not quite a planet, eh? (1)

incripshin (580256) | about 12 years ago | (#4501058)

Have you never taken physics? Here's a little story to explain it to you: When the USSR sent up Sputnik, the American government was of course nervous. After all, it was during the cold war. Well, it was feared that it was carrying a nuke on board. It was, however, impossible to determine the mass of a satellite based solely on the length of time of an orbit, the distance it is from the earth, and the mass of the earth. To prove it, I have the following equations (from Physics For Beginners [webplasma.com] ): Here [webplasma.com] & here [webplasma.com] . (look at them if you will continue reading)

Both equations give you the force required to hold the satellite in orbit. The first goes about it by using the velocity of the object, the distance between the objects, and the mass of it. The second looks at the distance from the earth and the mass of the two objects. If you set the two equal to each other and attempt to solve for m (or m1 in the second), well, you can't. Any value for m (or m1) will work, no matter what the other values are.

In conclusion, no matter what the mass of the object is, it has no bearing on the speed of the satellite. The only thing that does is the distance between the objects (the greater it is, the slower it'll go). Ask anybody in the know, they'll tell you the same.

Mark

Earth's second moon (5, Interesting)

EggplantMan (549708) | about 12 years ago | (#4500894)

Not only is it co-orbital but it periodically gets trapped in earth's gravitational field to become a second moon:
General Simon Worden of the United States Space Command described it as a "near Earth object that is close to being trapped by the Earth as a second natural satellite".

...

In 550AD, and again in 2600AD and 3880AD, for a while it will become a true satellite of our planet, in effect Earth's second moon, although technically it will remain under the gravitational control of the Sun.

Second? (2)

Cyno01 (573917) | about 12 years ago | (#4500905)

I thought we were up to what, four now?

Re:Second? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500961)

I thought we were up to what, four now?


"Officially" that's number three, after Luna (of course) and Cruithne. There's an unaccounted (rumoured?) number four, whose name currently escapes my memory.

this is stupid (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500895)

im going home

Min-Me (-1, Redundant)

Duryo (614878) | about 12 years ago | (#4500898)

Let's name it Mini-Me.

loconerd... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500902)

arnt you so special ? [aLk]0wnd..
o_O

What about the moon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500912)

And how could something even orbit around a "non-companion"?

600 years? (5, Interesting)

cybermace5 (446439) | about 12 years ago | (#4500918)

They claim it will be temporarily in earth orbit by 2600 AD. And then they go on to speculate on how important that would be to space exploration, possibly becoming the second object visited by astronauts.

If, in 600 years, we haven't sent astronauts to visit other planets, I have preemptively lost faith in the human race.

Come on, in 600 years we should have a pretty decent Mars colony going.

Mars needs women (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500951)

600 years is too long for them to go without. Lets start sending them women now.

Re:600 years? (1)

Masami Eiri (617825) | about 12 years ago | (#4500962)

2600? Hmm.. Coincidence or conspiracy..?

Re:600 years? (5, Insightful)

joshuac (53492) | about 12 years ago | (#4500980)

from the article:

Detailed observations of its trajectory through space show that 2002 AA29 will reach its minimum close approach to the Earth - 12 times the distance between Earth and the Moon - at 1900 GMT on 8 January 2003.

It will be closest to Earth in 2003, and will be nearby for awhile after. As it is much, much closer than Mars, it very well may become the next body visited.

Re:600 years? (2)

jonman_d (465049) | about 12 years ago | (#4501149)

Based on the recent blunders and budget cuts, do you really think NASA will be able to setup a mission to an asteriod in 12 months?

In 600 years (1)

SexyKellyOsbourne (606860) | about 12 years ago | (#4501072)

We'll probably be dead -- we could destroy civilization with merely the turn of a key and the push of a button.

Of course, if that doesn't happen (it's not a slim chance), we'll probably have antimatter engines propelling us slowly to other stars with fusion reactors turning a little ice into a lot of energy.

But we'll still probably all be DEAD and NUKED into oblivion within a decade!

31337 413NZ!!! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500924)

But despite detailed searches no one has yet found any Trojan objects near the Earth. Next come the inter-stellar port scans.

See the orbital motion for yourself (5, Informative)

StupendousMan (69768) | about 12 years ago | (#4500928)

JPL has a very nice tool for looking at the orbits of asteroids. Go to

http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/orbits/ [nasa.gov]

for the general case. For 2002AA29 in particular, you can use

http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/db?name=2002AA29&g roup=all&search=Search [nasa.gov]

Keep in mind that the orbital solution is based on only a short arc: only 28 days, about one twelfth of a complete revolution. Our estimates of the orbital parameters -- and behavior -- could change quite a bit over the next few months.

Re:See the orbital motion for yourself (1)

bongholio (609944) | about 12 years ago | (#4501129)

Cool.. much better than their poor explanation in the article. WTF are they talking about when they say "horseshoe" orbit. Doesn't look the least bit horseshoe like to me...

Nudged? (1)

thenextpresident (559469) | about 12 years ago | (#4500930)

From the article: " Some have speculated that it could be nudged into a permanent Earth orbit where it could be studied at greater length."...or accidently sent crashing to earth reeking havoc.

While we are out it, let's stop the damn rotation of the moon. It is so annoying, always changing phases.

Re:Nudged? (1)

thenextpresident (559469) | about 12 years ago | (#4500946)

oops...

s/reeking/wreaking/

Re:Nudged? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500956)

uh wtf you talking about? .. yes the moon rotates, but it also orbits us so we ALWAYS see the same side of the moon (the face, that bastard watches me in the shower!!!)

Re:Nudged? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500972)

let's stop the damn rotation of the moon. It is so annoying, always changing phases.

Stopping the moon's rotation would not stop it from changing phases. But it would still be pretty cool. Maybe the Jackass guys can rig up a sick dirtbike jump or model rocket stunt to stop the moon's rotation.

Re:Nudged? (1)

shigelojoe (590080) | about 12 years ago | (#4501138)

The phases that the moon goes through (waxing and waning and whatnot) has nothing to do with the rotation of the moon. Now, if by 'rotation' you mean 'the moon's orbiting of the earth, such that sometimes the moon is between the sun and the earth (new moon) and sometimes the earth is between the sun and the moon (full moon) and the rest of the time the moon is in a different position in its orbit (waxing or waning)', you're right. You just need to get a better dictionary.

Better get the calculations right! (3, Insightful)

Randar the Lava Liza (562063) | about 12 years ago | (#4500933)

They better not have any of those metric conversion errors if they try this operation:
Some have speculated that it could be nudged into a permanent Earth orbit where it could be studied at greater length.
cough Mars Climate Orbiter cough.

Earth says... (5, Funny)

Talisman (39902) | about 12 years ago | (#4500937)

Earth: "MOMMMMMMM! AA29 won't leave me alone! Please tell him to play on the other side of the solar system?!?"

Tal

Re:Earth says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4501026)

Mom: "AA29, that's enough! Now go show those slashdotter's some JPEGs of yourself naked. Go on."

They're certainly not C programmers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4500939)

The first one is "AA29"?

Where'd that come from? The rectal database?

Oh no! (1)

DarkHelmet (120004) | about 12 years ago | (#4500940)

They found us! Fire the "LASER!"

Orbits, nodes, & more (2, Interesting)

Microsoft Research (619409) | about 12 years ago | (#4500943)

The Earth of course revolves around the sun completing one revolution every year, but the Moon also revolves around the Earth in its own orbit.

Whether this new planet is actually a satellite of Earth is still to be determined. Also, a similar orbit does not mean that the climate is also known to be similar a priori.

The Earth's ecliptic orbit in summation with the Moon's orbit around the Earth means that the Moon must intersect the ecliptic; in fact, it will have to do so at two distinct points.

Has anyone found these nodal points for "Earth's Little Brother" yet? That's the true test of whether or not we will truly be affected by such circumstances.

Re:Orbits, nodes, & more (1)

Kirsten (146187) | about 12 years ago | (#4501128)

*Any* object in orbit around the sun would have to intersect the Earth's ecliptic (which is defined as the plane of the Earth's orbit) at two distinct points, except for the special case where an object has the same orbital plane as the earth. So yes, Jupiter, Pluto, and Halley's Comet all have ascending and descending nodal points and I'm sure 2002 AA29 does as well.

In fact, it seems that they've got all the details worked out [nasa.gov] . If you scroll down below the java applet they list all sorts of fun orbital parameters, including ascending node, eccentricity, etc. etc.

"Nudge" it? (5, Funny)

Eagle7 (111475) | about 12 years ago | (#4500944)

Some have speculated that it could be nudged into a permanent Earth orbit where it could be studied at greater length.

I can see it now: "Thanks to a sucessful nudgeing, scientists have been able to determine that Asteroid AA29 is pretty much a big rock. In other news, bizarre tides continue to cause panic and destruction around the world tonight..."

Warning! Bad Joke. (1)

crea5e (590098) | about 12 years ago | (#4500947)



I guess even planets can leave "their kids at the pool".

Re:Warning! Bad Joke. (0)

Wiseazz (267052) | about 12 years ago | (#4501159)

Better to drop your kids off at the pool than with the klingons hanging around around uranus. :)

(yuck, yuck)

miniature earth!? (3, Funny)

SirSlud (67381) | about 12 years ago | (#4500955)

if there are miniature people in miniature buildings driving miniature SUV's on it .. I'm packin my suitcase and leaving for another galaxy.

Or, barring that, could our planets swap all the SUVs?

Re:miniature earth!? (0, Troll)

kingkade (584184) | about 12 years ago | (#4501123)

lol, I could see it now. An entire mini-earth complete with these little lincoln navigators (which happen to be the size of regular cars here) driven by mini-earthlings yapping on cell phones cutting each other off, flipping the bird, with these little american flags hanging off each fender to show their solodarity. let us nuke it before we spread...;-]

Re:miniature earth!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4501158)

Of course, you neglect to mention that these characters would be a rather small minority on the Little Earth. Most Little Earthlings (about a third) would be either mini-Indians or mini-Chinese.

Horseshoe orbit? (3, Insightful)

jovlinger (55075) | about 12 years ago | (#4500970)

Can sny rocket scientists out there explain how two bodies in the same orbit can have different velocities, AND how the relative velocities can change over time?

They claim that for 90 odd years, the asteroid will accellerate ahead of us, to catch up with earth from behind, at which point it will fall back and we'll cath up with it. And then it repeats.

weird! I can't figure out how this is comes about, and the article didn't think it worth mentioning.

Re:Horseshoe orbit? (1)

Unordained (262962) | about 12 years ago | (#4501057)

if it's in a slightly falling orbit, it'll pick up speed (accelerate) and, much like the way we sling-shot stuff around planets, wind up behind us, going faster ... and i'd guess close enough for earth's field to slow it down again, pulling it back into a falling orbit ... or somesuch. kinda like two intertwined strings, or if you've seen the videos of moons around jupiter ... those are neat. the streaks cross paths back and forth ...

Re:Horseshoe orbit? (1)

Kirsten (146187) | about 12 years ago | (#4501076)

I would make a guess and say that it's being affected a great deal by the Earth and some by all the other planets too, so you can't treat it like a simple two-body problem.

Effect on Earth (-1)

HorizonXP (586587) | about 12 years ago | (#4500982)

Now, the article says that the asteroid doesn't come closer than 3.6 million miles.... However, it'd be interesting to see any type of effects it may have environmentally, however minimal. Perhaps it may alter tides (albeit slightly) Also, be interesting to see if any significant events occured around 550AD.... I'm a firm believer in astrology, and I think that this type of object might play some role. Or maybe historically, it shaped events (much like comets before battles) as it probably would appear as a new brighter star in the sky. Thought?

Re:Effect on Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4501033)

Fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476?

Doesn't reflect very well on humanity,does it... (2, Insightful)

Mac Degger (576336) | about 12 years ago | (#4501003)

I mean, come on...if we're as advanced as we seem to think we are, we should have been able to land something on it on jan 8, 2003.

Yeah, I know, that kind of thing is complex, but I feel we should have that spurious launch capability...god knows it would save us if we ever met something like what hit Jupiter a couple of years back.

Re:Doesn't reflect very well on humanity,does it.. (1)

MrP- (45616) | about 12 years ago | (#4501097)

We arent so advanced i guess, the article says in 600 years we might land on it, and that would be the SECOND object visited by astronauts. =(

20K libertareans... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4501005)

... now have the perfect candidate for their "free" state.

libertarians should be gassed (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4501077)

and then burned in ovens

Forgetting our history? (2, Funny)

vikstar (615372) | about 12 years ago | (#4501025)

But despite detailed searches no one has yet found any Trojan objects near the Earth.

"The Greeks built an immense wooden horse and Odysseus, Menelaus, and other warriors hid inside it. After leaving the horse at the gates of Troy, the Greek army sailed away. The Trojans thought the Greeks had given up and had left the horse as a gift."

BBC, News for Nerds & stuff that REALLY matter (3, Informative)

Doomrat (615771) | about 12 years ago | (#4501049)

Has anybody noticed how the BBC news is the best mainstream source for geeky stuff?

second natural sattelite? (1)

IVI4573R (614125) | about 12 years ago | (#4501096)

Funny how the BBC's article said it could become the Earth's second natural sattelite, when it fact it would be only the fourth. We already have two small natural astroids that are sattelites besides our moon.

Weird orbits (Offtopic: User suXx0r) (0)

Alari (181784) | about 12 years ago | (#4501134)

A game that a friend [livejournal.com] told me about, Spaced Penguin [bigideafun.com] , is great at demonstrating these orbital mechanics. =) And it's fun. =^.^=

Alari
--- Karma: We hate you. Go away.

It's the Death Star (5, Funny)

Gandalf21 (202078) | about 12 years ago | (#4501151)

"That's no moon"
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