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Will Mercury Hit Earth Someday?
Sky and Telescope Website ^ | April 24, 2008 | Ken Croswell

Posted on 05/01/2008 7:39:20 PM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets

First, the bad news: the inner solar system is unstable. Given enough time, Jupiter's gravity could yank Mercury out of its present orbit.

Two new computer simulations of long-term planetary motion — one by Jacques Laskar (Paris Observatory), the other by Konstantin Batygin and Gregory Laughlin (University of California, Santa Cruz) — have both reached the same disturbing conclusion.

Says Laughlin, "The solar system isn't as stable as we'd thought." Both teams have found that Jupiter's gravity can increase Mercury's orbital eccentricity over time. Mercury's path around the Sun is already nearly as elliptical as Pluto's. But Jupiter can make Mercury's orbit so out of round that it overlaps the path of Venus. A close encounter between them could send the innermost planet careening off wildly.

"Once Mercury crosses Venus's orbit," Laughlin says, "Mercury is in serious trouble."

So is Earth.

At that point, the simulations predict Mercury will suffer generally one of four fates: it crashes into the Sun, gets ejected from the solar system, it crashes into Venus, or — worst of all — crashes into Earth.

To call this catastrophic is a gross understatement. Such an impact would kill all life on our planet. Nothing would survive. By contrast, the asteroid that doomed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was likely just 6 miles in diameter; Mercury is 3,032 miles across. The last time an object about that size hit the Earth, the resulting debris formed our Moon.

Think we'll escape the chaos by fleeing to Mars? Think again. Even Mars might not be safe. In one of the computer simulations, the Red Planet was tossed into the cold of interstellar space.

Now, the good news: there's only about a 1% chance that Mercury will go crazy before the Sun bloats into a red giant billions of years from now. "If you're an optimist," says Laughlin, "then you say the glass is 99 percent full."

Laskar, who discovered that Mercury could go wild back in 1994, will publish his paper in Icarus; Batygin (who's still an undergraduate) and Laughlin will publish theirs in The Astrophysical Journal.


TOPICS: Astronomy
KEYWORDS: catastrophism; doom; freepun; immanuelvelikovsky; jupiter; mercury; velikovsky; weareallgoingtodie
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Mercury as seen by Messenger on January 14, 2008, from about 17,000 miles away. Might this inner-solar-system body someday destroy all life on Earth? Perhaps

Personally, I blame Henri Poincaré. Typical French trouble maker. Off to bed. See you in the morning.

1 posted on 05/01/2008 7:39:20 PM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

I guess someone has to say it... Bush’s Fault!


2 posted on 05/01/2008 7:43:41 PM PDT by mnehring
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

That tears it! I’m outta here!


3 posted on 05/01/2008 7:44:24 PM PDT by Man50D (Fair Tax, you earn it, you keep it!)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
Nobody panic....this guy will make another movie and save us all

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

4 posted on 05/01/2008 7:45:01 PM PDT by txroadkill (Liberals believe that the only oppressed people in Cuba are the terrorist in GitMo)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
Will Mercury Hit Earth Someday?

With my luck...

5 posted on 05/01/2008 7:46:14 PM PDT by Texas Eagle (Could pacifists exist if there weren't people brave enough to go to war for their right to exist?)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
Mercury will suffer generally one of four fates: it crashes into the Sun, gets ejected from the solar system, it crashes into Venus, or — worst of all — crashes into Earth

Mercury's fate is not Hermetically sealed...

6 posted on 05/01/2008 7:46:18 PM PDT by mikrofon (Space BUMP)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
Will Mercury Hit Earth Someday?

Mercury to Earth:


7 posted on 05/01/2008 7:47:21 PM PDT by humblegunner (Che is Gay)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

What difference does it make? WE’re all gonna be dead from global warming way before that happens.


8 posted on 05/01/2008 7:49:06 PM PDT by mamelukesabre (Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

Good news is if you change the type of car you drive, buy new toxic lightbulbs, and forgo any further use of toilet paper, the world AS WE KNOW IT can remain Mercury-impact free IN OUR LIFETIME!!!


9 posted on 05/01/2008 7:49:17 PM PDT by weegee (Vote Obama 2008 for a bitter America.)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
Says Laughlin, "The solar system isn't as stable as we'd thought." Both teams have found that Jupiter's gravity can increase Mercury's orbital eccentricity over time. Mercury's path around the Sun is already nearly as elliptical as Pluto's. But Jupiter can make Mercury's orbit so out of round that it overlaps the path of Venus. A close encounter between them could send the innermost planet careening off wildly.

If AlGore is to be proclaimed our true God, can we all be saved from this cataclysmic event if we worship him enough?

10 posted on 05/01/2008 7:51:04 PM PDT by EGPWS (Trust in God, question everyone else)
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To: mamelukesabre

Where is the ACLU to tell Mercury that Earth is a sovereign planet???


11 posted on 05/01/2008 7:51:35 PM PDT by weegee (Vote Obama 2008 for a bitter America.)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

Will this event cause global warming or cooling?


12 posted on 05/01/2008 7:51:48 PM PDT by Inyo-Mono (If you don't want people to get your goat, don't tell them where it's tied.)
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To: EGPWS

Why not go for “first strike” AGAINST Mercury?


13 posted on 05/01/2008 7:52:29 PM PDT by weegee (Vote Obama 2008 for a bitter America.)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

14 posted on 05/01/2008 7:52:57 PM PDT by 50cal Smokepole (El Conservo Tribal Name: Fishes with Dynamite)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

It couldn’t happen soon enough!

Just lean into it folks!!


15 posted on 05/01/2008 7:53:14 PM PDT by KoRn (CTHULHU '08 - I won't settle for a lesser evil any longer!)
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To: Inyo-Mono

Warming followed by cooling. Look for good opportunities to enjoy your weekend...


16 posted on 05/01/2008 7:53:14 PM PDT by weegee (Vote Obama 2008 for a bitter America.)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

This all is a moot point, because Ted Turner said we’d all be gone because we turned to cannibalism by 2050. /sarc


17 posted on 05/01/2008 7:54:28 PM PDT by NordP ((Rev Wright ) - Hey, Obama... Looks like YOUR "turrr-key" has come hoooome to ROOOOST!)
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To: weegee

Interesting. Using mercury lightbulbs will ward off the planet mercury?


18 posted on 05/01/2008 7:54:30 PM PDT by mamelukesabre (Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

Algore will save us!


19 posted on 05/01/2008 7:54:32 PM PDT by b4its2late (Ignorance allows liberalism to prosper.)
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To: weegee
Why not go for “first strike” AGAINST Mercury?

I never thought of that.

I guess I'm just too passive by nature. ~snort

20 posted on 05/01/2008 7:54:49 PM PDT by EGPWS (Trust in God, question everyone else)
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