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Asteroid 4179 Toutatis Will Miss Earth, This Time

timothy posted about 10 years ago | from the jimmy-carter's-revenge dept.

Space 301

EtherAlchemist writes "National Geographic News reports in this story that a giant, peanut shaped asteroid known as 4179 Toutatis will pass within 1 million miles of Earth on Weds, the 29th. When it does, it will be the closest any known object of this size (3 miles) has passed near Earth in this century. No worry about impact yet, it should pose no threat until at least 2562. An interesting note: the asteroid believed to have caused Earth's biggest mass extinction is thought to have been between 3.7 and 7.5 miles as reported here in 2001." 2004 FU162 came closer, but is a much smaller object.

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Isnt this old news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350334)

I could have sworn people have been talking about this asteroid for months...

Wow, the biggest this century!!! (5, Funny)

sgant (178166) | about 10 years ago | (#10350338)

When it does, it will be the closest any known object of this size (3 miles) has passed near Earth in this century.

Wow! You mean to tell me it's the largest object to pass near here in over 3 years!!!

OK, one of those things that sounds impressive, then when one thinks a little, isn't all that big a deal...

Re:Wow, the biggest this century!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350361)

I'm sure last 100 years is what's being implied, that or they are quoting the story on the other site. Could have been worse- "biggest this decade"

article text - its already slowing (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350363)

Asteroid Close Encounter Coming Wednesday

Toutatis makes an elliptical four-year trek around the sun that takes it from just inside Earth's orbital path to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Scientists say the asteroid also has one of the strangest rotation states yet observed in the solar system. Instead of spinning on a single axis--as do most asteroids and the planets, including our own--Toutatis wobbles around two.

The asteroid rotates around one axis once every 5.4 Earth days and, in turn, rotates around the other axis once every 7.3 Earth days. Netcraft confirms bsd is dying. As such, "the orientation of the asteroid never repeats exactly," Ostro said.

Measuring the asteroid's Yarkovsky effect will also help astronomers to better refine their predictions of the asteroid's orbit. With that information, scientists can calculate if, and/or when, Toutatis poses a real risk of impacting Earth.

Re:Wow, the biggest this century!!! (1)

real_smiff (611054) | about 10 years ago | (#10350365)

it's the biggest this millenium aswell. amazing. on a semi-related note, i still hear politicians on TV talking about bringing things into the 20th century..

Re:Wow, the biggest this century!!! (4, Informative)

pbranes (565105) | about 10 years ago | (#10350385)

Actually, asteroids coming near the earth are pretty common. Check out the wikipedia article:

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

However, our current programsto track asteroids that might hit the earth is extremely limited.

Re:Wow, the biggest this century!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350439)

slashdot still needs a "-1, didn't get the joke" mod

Even more impressive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350387)

It's the closest any known object of this size has passed near Earth in this millenium!!!

Re:Wow, the biggest this century!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350433)

Especially considering that it's not true. Rosie O'Donnell is easily the largest object to pass by this century.

Damn (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350340)

So close to not having to pay next months rent

Re:Damn (1)

ravenspear (756059) | about 10 years ago | (#10350440)

I would rather pay the "life tax."

we're safe (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350343)

the asteroid runs linux, so we dont have to worry about it crashing, right nerds?

asteroid runs gentoo (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350768)

it actually runs gentoo. It's still compiling as we speak. That's why it avoided us, so it can finish its compile.

just clipping the wing mirrors then (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350350)

sorry bad one

Painting Your Way to Safety (1, Interesting)

reporter (666905) | about 10 years ago | (#10350356)

There is no need to worry. We could easily alter the path of an asteroid if it ever were on a collision course with earth. We have 2 courses of action.

1. Just load an ICBM [spacedaily.com] with gallons of white paint and smash the missile onto the asteroid. (This method works for small asteroids.) The light from the sun will push the newly painted asteroid onto a different flight path.

2. Load an ICBM with a hydrogen bomb. Smash the missile into the asteroid.

All is well.

Re:Painting Your Way to Safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350364)

Nah we will just send bruce willis and some red neck oil drillers lol

Re:Painting Your Way to Safety (3, Funny)

AlphaJoe (798014) | about 10 years ago | (#10350400)

Didn't you see Armageddon? You can't do that...we must send Bruce Willis to mine holes and gently plant the explosives. Geez...

Re:Painting Your Way to Safety (4, Insightful)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | about 10 years ago | (#10350401)

Method 1 is novel, but probably wouldn't produce enough of a course change to matter... we'd still die (remember we're unlikely to spot an asteroid until it's way too a late for minor course changes to make a difference).

Method 2 plain wouldn't work. Asteroids aren't solid objects so they can absorb a lot of shock, plus if you managed to break it up all the little bits would have the same total velocity as the original asteroid... death by a thousand cuts.

Idea is not to obliterate the asteroid. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350435)

The idea is not to obliterate the asteroid. The idea is to use the explosive force of the hydrogen bomb to slightly nudge the asteroid. A slight nudge far away from earth would change the asteroid's path sufficiently so that the object avoids earth.

That is the meaning of the grandparent post.

Re:Painting Your Way to Safety (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350445)

You do realise surely that 1000 small asteroids is a lot better than 1 large asteroid, right? The effect of 1000 small chunks would be greatly reduced due to them burning up faster while descending through the atmosphere. Same total velocity my ass, i'm all up for air resistance.

Re:Painting Your Way to Safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350527)

That's why its so much better to be shot with a shotgun instead of a hand gun.

Re:Painting Your Way to Safety (1)

Vanieter (613996) | about 10 years ago | (#10350541)

At longer ranges, yes, I'd rather be shot by a shotgun than, say, a handgun (although a rifle would be a better comparison). Same thing for the asteroid.

Re:Painting Your Way to Safety (5, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 10 years ago | (#10350537)

You do realise surely that 1000 small asteroids is a lot better than 1 large asteroid, right? The effect of 1000 small chunks would be greatly reduced due to them burning up faster while descending through the atmosphere.

1000 pieces of a 3-mile asteroid are each 0.3 miles (0.5km) in diameter. The atmosphere is barely going to singe a rock of that size before it impacts.

Even if were blown to tiny pieces, that wouldn't help. Scientific American had a recent article that hypothesized that one of the worst parts of a big impact is the rebound of billions of tiny fragments into space, which then rain down all over the globe. Each one burns up individually, but the overall effect heats the entire atmosphere to hundreds of degrees, incinerating just about everything on the planet.

Sliced big or small, that much mass coming in from outer space would be a major problem.

Re:Painting Your Way to Safety (2, Informative)

Vellmont (569020) | about 10 years ago | (#10350718)

The key to method one is pinpointing the exact orbits of all the asteroids that possibly might hit us, and run computer simulations to find any that will hit us in the next hundred or thousand years. If you have that much warning the light reflection method would probbably work.

Re:Painting Your Way to Safety (3, Funny)

Ikester8 (768098) | about 10 years ago | (#10350742)

...all the little bits would have the same total velocity as the original asteroid

I dunno. My experience with asteroids is that the smaller the chunks, the faster they travel. Same with the flying saucers.

Re: You need early warning (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | about 10 years ago | (#10350524)

Actually, pushing big objects of course is relatively easy. A tiny push can change the path enough enough to miss the earth by a huge margin. And there's plenty of methods one could imagine to apply a 'tiny' push.

But for good effect, it needs to apply over extended period of time. So you need early warning. With the speeds of these objects, that means looking into deep space in all directions, so that you see the thing coming, months or years ahead. And there's the problem: roughly speaking, we are looking, but not too closely. And when something is spotted, the game plan isn't ready either.

Re:Painting Your Way to Safety - half right (4, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 10 years ago | (#10350553)

painting it white, with enough lead time would indeed work. Blowing it up, would not.

Why?

Because a billion tons of gravel travelling at 25,000 miles per hour is just as deadly as a billion ton chunk of rock travelling at 25,000 miles per hour. It's not the rock itself that's the problem. It's the kinetic energy from the object's mass that's the problem. Gravel - rock - it's all the same at 25,000 miles per hour...

The only way a nuke really would work would be if it were small enough to nudge it off course, wihich would mean getting a BIG lead time on it. and that assumes that the asteroid is solid. It seems a lot of them aren't all thet well put together and a nuke would only turn the bullet/asteroid into a shotgun blast, per my previous description.

RS

Re:Painting Your Way to Safety - half right (2, Interesting)

Johnboi Waltune (462501) | about 10 years ago | (#10350582)

I'm not sure about that. Blasting the asteroid into gravel would greatly increase its total surface area. More surface area + same velocity = more heat generated from friction with the atmosphere. Therefore more of its mass would burn up before striking the earth.

Re:Painting Your Way to Safety - half right (2, Interesting)

RichMan (8097) | about 10 years ago | (#10350674)

> Therefore more of its mass would burn up before striking the earth.

And dump the heat into the atmosphere. Congratulations you have just managed to convert the energy from a kinetic impact into a heat event probably affecting a much wider range than before.

The choices
A) smashed: solid ground absorbes energy
B) broiled: atmosphere absorbs energy

Re:Painting Your Way to Safety - half right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350585)

Gravel - rock - it's all the same at 25,000 miles per hour...

Until it hits the atmosphere, at which point the gravel particles vaporize due to the friction of re-entry.

Re:Painting Your Way to Safety - half right (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350624)

What if two nukes were sent. One to break the astroid into thousands of pieces and the second to distribute those pieces over a greater amount of area?

Re:Painting Your Way to Safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350642)

Actually an ICBM would just shatter the asteriod into millions of small deadlier species. If it was a comet a laser would work perfectly. Maybe try attaching some solar sales to it and hope it gets blown off course.

Painting Your Way to Sunshine (0)

contagious_d (807463) | about 10 years ago | (#10350680)

I believe I would be behind the idea 100% if there was open source software and a celebrity involved. Could we get Mario to do this? Maybe fill up his little water-squirter backpack with white paint? How 'bout starting a project on sourceforge to reprogram the backpack? We could call it Open Asteroid Squirter.

what if...? (5, Interesting)

rokzy (687636) | about 10 years ago | (#10350357)

what if we knew for sure we would be hit in 500 years? that's long enough to be none of our problems. so would people say "fuck them" and just leave it to some other generation to sort out, or be willing to pay for a huge programme to deflect/destroy it?

it's a similar problem to global warming, except there are no asteroid-impact-dependent business models funding research and laws like with oil.

Re:what if...? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350386)

I'd hardly say a three mile wide asteroid is equivalent to global warming in terms of a "world ending event".

Re:what if...? (1)

rokzy (687636) | about 10 years ago | (#10350412)

it's an entirely hypothetical situation merely inspired by the article, not based on it.

plus, with global warming/environment change we'll be fucked within 100 years let alone 500, except for those who are already being fucked rigt now by hurricanes etc.

Re:what if...? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 10 years ago | (#10350450)

Well, it's generally held that if it's close enough to see, it's too close to change its course significantly. However, you could change its course while it's still heading away from you...

Re:what if...? (4, Funny)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | about 10 years ago | (#10350453)

500 years? let the apes deal with it.

Re:what if...? (4, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 years ago | (#10350455)

we would regard it as "none of our problem", but the technology would continue to evolve.

in couple of generations people would start making up some plans to escape from the disaster.

Re:what if...? (1)

smartin (942) | about 10 years ago | (#10350564)

If we knew that it was going to hit on the next pass, the logical thing would be to blast it this time after it clears the earth. A small change in it orbit at this point should translate into a large one by the time it comes around again.

Re:what if...? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350599)

Exactly. The lack of opposition from corporate interests in exactly why international cooperation between governments has so quickly put together a comprehensive and effective solution to defending earth by deflecting asteroids.

Meanwhile, global warming remains a nearly unknown "problem" ignored by all but a few geeks on specialist websites, never mentioned in the news media or turned into a political issue. The oil barons have buried their dirty secret where no one (but rokzy) knows about it.

Re:what if...? (1)

sowth (748135) | about 10 years ago | (#10350752)

500 years? Deflecting/destroying the thing wouldn't be the only option. Moving to Mars would be a sound alternative too. It would make a good business model too.

"Ten homes avail. in Cydonia region. SELLING FAST!!! $100,000 down, $10,000/month. You don't want to be stuck on Earth when the asteriod hits!" ;-)

By toutatis... (5, Funny)

ch3 (701440) | about 10 years ago | (#10350373)

... seems the sky missed us this time [frithjof.de] ! ;)

Re:By toutatis... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350705)

Huh?

Alright people (1)

StevenHenderson (806391) | about 10 years ago | (#10350377)

Alright people...call off the Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis-led rescue team.

ummm... (-1, Troll)

Quasar1999 (520073) | about 10 years ago | (#10350384)

Who cares? Really, we can't do shit about it if it comes... so who cares! When one big enough to cause damage will hit us, and we do know about it... telling the public would be stupid... so we won't know about it...

Re:ummm... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350449)

telling the public would be stupid... so we won't know about it

Not at all. The news would probably leak out, and there would still be a panic.

What you really want to do is tell people about the rock, but tell them it'll just a be a near miss, a million miles or some such. Nothing to worry about.

Re:ummm... (0, Offtopic)

moonbender (547943) | about 10 years ago | (#10350716)

Hilarious! :)

I don't know about you... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350388)

but this is an appropriate time to... ... ...

PANIC! Ahhh!

peanut of death (2, Funny)

IAR80 (598046) | about 10 years ago | (#10350390)

Forget Death star check the Death Peanut.

Re:peanut of death (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350578)

That's no peanut!

Not especially close (4, Informative)

yellowstone (62484) | about 10 years ago | (#10350391)

The mean distance between the Earth and moon is 384,400 kilometers [freemars.org] . 1,000,000 miles is about 1,609,000 kilometers [runnersweb.com] , so the asteroid will come within about 4.2 earth-moon distances.

Re:Not especially close (1)

jangobongo (812593) | about 10 years ago | (#10350512)

On the other hand though, it is predicted in the article [nationalgeographic.com] that in 2562, "...Toutatis will pass within 250,000 miles (400,000 kilometers) of Earth." What would happen if it hit the moon?

Re:Not especially close (1)

cubicledrone (681598) | about 10 years ago | (#10350550)

What would happen if it hit the moon?

The moon would win.

Astronomers would learn a lot if it hit the moon (4, Informative)

billstewart (78916) | about 10 years ago | (#10350730)

If something that big hit the Earth, it would release a huge amount of debris into the atmosphere, affecting solar energy absorbtion/reflection, maybe doing a nuclear-winter-style cooling, affecting clouds, possibly causing chemical-related problems depending on what it threw around, making a big atmospheric shock wave that would devaste everything in a huge radius around it, cause lots of fires, and cause a big earthquake which might trigger more quakes, etc.,

But the moon doesn't have an atmosphere or oceans, so most of those things simply won't happen - lots of dust goes ballistic and lands, a chunk of the moon's surface gets vaporized (ok, causing a temporary localized atmosphere of sorts, but not enough to care about), and the dust covers some existing craters, but if there's a new crater on a side of the moon we can see, maybe it'd be deep enough to get some real insight about the inside of the moon.

Certainly lots of business for astronomers for a while. It'd be much more annoying if it hit the far side of the moon where we can only see it from spaceships.

Re:Not especially close (0)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 10 years ago | (#10350557)

What would happen if it hit the moon?

All life on the planet would probable die.

With no moon, the tides would stop. Without tides, the oceans would become large pools of stagnant water. They'd putrify like one gigantic toilet that never gets flushed.

It would all go downhill after that.

LK

Re:Not especially close (1)

yellowstone (62484) | about 10 years ago | (#10350666)

With no moon, the tides would stop.
Any scenario where the moon is hit by something large enough to end the tides, would almost certainly also result in large chunks of debris falling out of orbit. Prolly more of an immediate problem than lack of tides...
Without tides, the oceans would become large pools of stagnant water
I am not an oceanographer (but I'm willing to play one on /.), but it seems to me that the sun's heating action is at least as important to maintaining ocean currents as the moon's tidal action. Of course, the afore-mentioned falling debris could certainly cause a lot of dust to be ejected into the atmosphere, forest fires putting soot, ash, and smoke into the air, and causing a nuclear-winter like situation.
It would all go downhill after that.
Yah. Either way, I'm guessing it wouldn't be a happy time.

seems to be an awful lot of 'close calls' (3, Insightful)

Depris (612363) | about 10 years ago | (#10350395)

I'm getting kind of sick of this type of story. It seems like every few months their are stories released about some space object coming close to earth and 'just barely missing'.

Though I am curious to know if their is an official plan for countering a colliding asteriod? What would our options be realistically if an asteriod going to impact in a matter of months?

Re:seems to be an awful lot of 'close calls' (4, Funny)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | about 10 years ago | (#10350423)

Not a lot really. We don't really have the technology.

We wouldn't get months probably. Days, perhaps. If we're really unlucky, hours.

That would make one hell of a slashdot headline while it lasted, though.

Re:seems to be an awful lot of 'close calls' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350486)

I got me next years April fools article

Re:seems to be an awful lot of 'close calls' (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350622)

Yeah, 2 days after it strikes slashdot will read:
Asteroid going to strike earth.

You're new here, right?

Re:seems to be an awful lot of 'close calls' (1)

servognome (738846) | about 10 years ago | (#10350436)

It seems like every few months their are stories released about some space object coming close to earth and 'just barely missing'.
I agree, the media needs to stop hyping up these near misses and write the news story AFTER it hits us.

Re:seems to be an awful lot of 'close calls' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350454)

From what I've heard, the official plan involves a lot of running around screaming, and possibly crapping one's pants. But then again, that's probably what scientists are going to discover a few hundred years from now when they dig up the remains of a bar in Detroit.

Re:seems to be an awful lot of 'close calls' (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 10 years ago | (#10350589)

Though I am curious to know if their is an official plan for countering a colliding asteriod?

They'd probably tell us that the object is going to come close, but miss us.

What's the point in causing a global panic if there's nothing that can be done to stop it?

LK

Re:seems to be an awful lot of 'close calls' (1)

johannesg (664142) | about 10 years ago | (#10350712)

They'd probably tell us that the object is going to come close, but miss us.

Damn it, you were supposed to KEEP QUIET about that!

Probably just launch a few hundred nukes at it. (1)

Viewsonic (584922) | about 10 years ago | (#10350615)

Detonate them in its path and stear it off course into the moon or somewhere else. Almost all our ICBMs leave the atmosphere as it is, and once they leave, it wouldn't take much to guide them where we want them. It would be one hell of a light show for sure.

Too bad it will miss Earth. (1)

GeorgeMcBay (106610) | about 10 years ago | (#10350413)

I was looking forward to the free tacos.

Maybe next time.

Isn't Toutatis (0, Offtopic)

S. Baldrick (565691) | about 10 years ago | (#10350418)

...that hot Russian Lesbian asteroid? /would let it hit me

peanut asteroid (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350424)

the giant, peanut shaped asteroid known as 4179 Toutatis will pass within 1 million miles of

I hope it doesn't miss the chocolate bar asteroid known only in my hopes and dreams

Considering (1)

Skiron (735617) | about 10 years ago | (#10350425)

The Earth is about 7000 miles in diameter (read small), we are a pretty insignificant rock in space for anything to hit, unfortunately.

Re:Considering (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350555)

That's why its never happened before ... look at all the dinosaurs over there ...

Learn all about Near-Earth Objects (5, Informative)

CompSurfer (759218) | about 10 years ago | (#10350430)

NASA's NEO (Near Earth Object) program [nasa.gov] tracks many different objects, though I wish they had a bigger budget, then they could handle even more.

larger or smaller (1)

oil (594341) | about 10 years ago | (#10350448)

So, will it be larger or smaller the next time around?

Between 3.7 and 7.5 miles? (2, Insightful)

Jonathunder (105885) | about 10 years ago | (#10350452)

Wouldn't it be easier to say 6 to 12 Km?

Re:Between 3.7 and 7.5 miles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350515)

No.

Re:Between 3.7 and 7.5 miles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350744)

Bet you ride a bike, too...

Solar sails or small rockets (1)

DigitalRaptor (815681) | about 10 years ago | (#10350458)

I think the only way to effectively deal with an oncoming asteroid are:

1) Send a lander out that anchors and deploys a large solar sail, using the power of the suns particles to divert the asteroid.

2) Send a lander out that attaches an array of small (comparably) rockets that slowly alter the course of the asteroid. Much tougher on an asteroid such as this one that tumbles on two axis'.

Unfortunatlely, both are unlikely to succeed because they need a long time to work, and we never see these things until it's a little too late...

Re:Solar sails or small rockets (1, Redundant)

nwmakel (816545) | about 10 years ago | (#10350508)

Nuke. 'nuf said.

The asteroid might miss us... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350468)

..but ther might be another, quite catastrophic, development looming in the near future. It has been a couple of decades now that the number of powerful tornadoes has been increasing steadily. A Pentagon-commissioned report lists all the risks we are facing: disappearance of the Greenland ice sheet, disruption of north Atlantic stream, disappearance of Bangladesh and parts of the US east coast, famine due to drought and lack of arable land, disappearance of the south and central american rainforests. The Pentagon is worried that ultimately someone's going to press the big red button.

That's too bad... (3, Funny)

theraccoon (592935) | about 10 years ago | (#10350494)

Guess that means I still gotta go to work on Monday.

sigh.

Asteroid, or volcano? Which is it? (3, Funny)

Judg3 (88435) | about 10 years ago | (#10350516)

An interesting note: the asteroid believed to have caused Earth's biggest mass extinction is thought to have been between 3.7 and 7.5 miles as reported here in 2001

I was just watching something the other day on the History channel about a recent find. A huge lot of dinosaurs buried under meters of volcanic ash - sort of hinting a giant volcano blast may have done all the dirt work.

I tried to google for some more info, but came up empty-handed. I did find this article [findarticles.com] though, about dinosaurs found in Alaska. It states that if they had managed to adapt to an arctic environment, then the "nuclear winter" effect of a large meteor hitting earth may not hold as much water.

Then again, I doubt we'll ever truly know - maybe the dinosaurs just got tired of living and went the way of the Heaven's Gate members.

Chances of getting hit soon are ridiculous (2, Interesting)

Larthallor (623891) | about 10 years ago | (#10350522)

Anatomically modern humans have been around about a hundred thousand years. That's roughly five or six THOUSAND generations. The chances that we get smacked by an asteroid within the lifetime of the first couple of generations that actually have a chance to see it coming is remote.

Yes, it would be bad.

Yes, it's going to happen if we don't stop it.

No, it's not going to happen in your lifetime.

No, I'm not giving you lots of money to try to stop one with primitive turn-of-the-millennium technology. When legitimate investments in space travel bring the cost of launch down and our robotics/sensors are better and our deep space propulsion systems are better, THEN I'll vote for spending money on a decent system.

Or I would, if I wasn't going to die in the global bio-weapons apocalypse of 2027.

Re:Chances of getting hit soon are ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350634)

The odds of an asteroid hitting the earth don't change just because the human race is still relatively young.

FU162 (5, Funny)

djtripp (468558) | about 10 years ago | (#10350530)

That is quite the appropriate letter sequence for an asteroid that comes close to earth.

Par Toutatis!!! Par Bélénos!!! (1)

wringles (12507) | about 10 years ago | (#10350531)

And to think that the only thing I used to fear was that the sky would fall on my head.

How long before we can reach it with rockets (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350560)

...and park it at one of the Lagrange points? Something that massive would be much better for an international space station than a few hundred tons in low earth orbit, and it would provide more than enough shielding for any conceivable solar flare.

Re:How long before we can reach it with rockets (1)

Whumpsnatz (451594) | about 10 years ago | (#10350771)

Actually, that's a pretty good idea. We could probably do it today if we sent out a fuzzy-logic driven vehicle with a solar sail. Yeah, it'd take years. So what?

Online Game Based on The Floating Space Rock! (1)

NashCarey (765512) | about 10 years ago | (#10350596)

A few months back this rock was for sale on Ebay. The link no longer works so I can't post it. But there was a strange puzzle on the link. The puzzle lead everyone at http://www.forums.metaunlimited.com/viewtopic.php? p=1698&sid=f830243e623dcef49c07484dba7c7b35#16 98 [metaunlimited.com] to think this is an Alternate Reality Game http://www.argeuro.net/ [argeuro.net] . Then we found http://www.orbitalcolony.com/ [orbitalcolony.com] confirming that this is in fact an ARG. So the question is...

Is this asteriod SlashDot is talking about real or fiction. Come play along with us an have fun!!

Re:Online Game Based on The Floating Space Rock! (1)

LBoomer (816551) | about 10 years ago | (#10350737)

This is going to be cool, I have been kind of watching this, waiting for something to happen. They actually have a pretty cool trailer for the game at the orbital colony site. If that is any indication of the things to come, it looks like it is going to be quite interesting. Check it out at http://www.orbitalcolony.com/ [orbitalcolony.com] and see for yourself. Looks sweet.

Re:Online Game Based on The Floating Space Rock! (1)

Blacklight1 (816550) | about 10 years ago | (#10350760)

og upi vsm trsf yjod? er esmy upi pm pit yrs/

EEE/ORTDOPMIM:OOYRF/VP

Let the game begin.... 8)
(gears up for many nights of brain bending)

Orientation never repeating exactly? (1, Funny)

renehollan (138013) | about 10 years ago | (#10350604)

The asteroid rotates around one axis once every 5.4 Earth days and, in turn, rotates around the other axis once every 7.3 Earth days. As such, "the orientation of the asteroid never repeats exactly," Ostro said.

I call bull.

It isn't clear to what the orientation is compared (...an observer on a fixed point on Earth?, ...a fixed point in the asteroid's orbital plane?), but at some point it will have the same orientation with regard to anything in a periodic motion relative to it.

Let's take the simple example of the plane of it's orbit (ignoring pertubations caused by other objects: if you consider them, you'd come to the conclusion that no objects ever repeat their orientation toward one another, since there must be some object that moves in a non-periodic way relative to any of them -- even within periodic systems, the N-body problem has not been shown to have perfectly periodic solutions):

It rotates on two axis with a period of 5.4 and 7.3 Earth days. Let's assume those figures are exact. It thus rotates ten times on each axis in 54 and 73 days, respectively. In 54*73 = 3942 days, it rotates on one axis 54*73/5.4 = 730 times, and on the other 54*73/7.3 = 540 times. Nice, whole numbers, reflecting the same orientation toward the plane of it's orbit (around the sun).

Dividing by 10, in 394.2 days it rotates 73 times around one axis and 54 time around the other. As 54 and 73 are coprime (sharing no common factors except 1), this is the shortest interval in which it repeats it's orientation with respect to the plane of it's orbit around the sun.

We can use the same process to compare it's location in it's orbit around the sun, with the Earth's orbit around the sun, and the position of a person on the surface of the Earth, as it rotates about it's axis. We could even account for the precession of the Earth's axis if we wished. In every case, there is some interval in which the person has rotated about the Earth's axis an integral number of times, the Earth has revolved around the sun an integral number of times, the asteroid has revolved around the sun an integral number of times, and has rotated about each of it's axis an integral number of times. This only fails if one of the periods (of rotation or revolution) is irrational. But, even then, you can find the interval between repeated orientations to an arbitrary degree of precision.

A transhuman in defensive pod (1)

Thinkit4 (745166) | about 10 years ago | (#10350613)

Wouldn't have much problem. The pod could maneuver away quickly. When will we host our sentiences in defensive pod? Then we can get back to libertarian politics.

Humans are not dinosaurs (3, Insightful)

mantera (685223) | about 10 years ago | (#10350636)



Even if such an object hit Earth, I seriously doubt that it would lead to human extinction. In fact, it probably won't even kill as many people as the tens, or possibly even hundreds, of millions we have killed during the 20th century in two world wars, many other wars, and persistent indifference to humanitarian crises of famine or disease. This may be a young crowd, but those of us old enough who have grown up during the heat of the cold war will probably have less to worry about from a meteor hitting than all those tens of thousands of ICBM the USA and USSR seemed willing to unleash on each other and everyone at a very short notice.

Many species survived many mass extinction events, and, ironically and in fact, many of such species have been, or are being, driven to extinction by none other than us. Soon we will have successfully driven biodiversity to the minimum we have allowed to survive because we want it, such as dairy and poultry farms, and pets.

I am willing to bet that the last surviving species on Earth will be humans and microbes.

Re: Asteroid (1)

demon_2k (586844) | about 10 years ago | (#10350647)

Im curious how did earth rurvive so long with all that mass moving around in space...Because we will have to deal with a situation like that sooner or later, will we be ready??? Somehow i don't think it's as easy as nuking it.

*Drewel* (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10350661)

Oh no! A gigant... mmmmmm, peanuts....

Bring 'em On! (1)

hedley (8715) | about 10 years ago | (#10350667)

I will take a page out of contemporary "leadership" and show those space rocks who the boss is!

Now look whose winning! 1million miles! Ha try harder next time.

if all else fails... (1)

Zoko Siman (585929) | about 10 years ago | (#10350670)

...we'll just go through the star gate....

I'm Disappointed (1)

StevenHenderson (806391) | about 10 years ago | (#10350685)

Surely we can find some way to blame terrorists for this. Especially so close to election time! :)

The reason you hear about these things (1)

SetupWeasel (54062) | about 10 years ago | (#10350707)

Some people (like, I don't know... SETI) periodically release reports like these in order to ensure funding and the existance of their jobs.

A bit like our President and his terror alerts.
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