Skip to comments.Will Mercury Hit Earth Someday?
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.
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.
I guess someone has to say it... Bush’s Fault!
That tears it! I’m outta here!
With my luck...
Mercury's fate is not Hermetically sealed...
Mercury to Earth:
What difference does it make? WE’re all gonna be dead from global warming way before that happens.
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!!!
If AlGore is to be proclaimed our true God, can we all be saved from this cataclysmic event if we worship him enough?
Where is the ACLU to tell Mercury that Earth is a sovereign planet???
Will this event cause global warming or cooling?
Why not go for “first strike” AGAINST Mercury?
It couldn’t happen soon enough!
Just lean into it folks!!
Warming followed by cooling. Look for good opportunities to enjoy your weekend...
This all is a moot point, because Ted Turner said we’d all be gone because we turned to cannibalism by 2050. /sarc
Interesting. Using mercury lightbulbs will ward off the planet mercury?
Algore will save us!
I never thought of that.
I guess I'm just too passive by nature. ~snort
Personally, I'm scrambling to "CHANGE" my lifestyle to help make it happen. /SARCASM!
I think he already has...
You do realize that in the morning, if your lucky, you are going to awake from your dreams, right? ; )
In the year, 2049
You'll do anything to stay alive
Even barbeque your bride
Duck and Run!
Great, Velikovsky was right...
October 22nd. ... around tea time ....
One must ask: ‘What about Uranus?’
Only if you drop that compact flourescent light bulb while forced to replace your incandescent bulbs. Then watch out!!! All heck is going to break out!!!
Quick! Where can I buy Mercury credits?
Nah. He'll just build another agency like Department of Mercury Security and hire TSA types to keep an eye on the planet.
Code Red for the "Red Planet" will be appropriate.
That thar article has a wee bit of conjecture in it...
So is Earth.
Oh no! What about Uranus?
“What about myanus?”
BRIDGE Is this a Russian conspiracy, no it's just idiocy Is this a Chinese burn I gotta dinosaur for a representative It's got a small brain and refuses to learn Their promotion's so lame
IOW, about the same odds of everyone on the planet Earth winning the lotto simultaneously.
Not at all. The odds against six billion people (choosing independently and randomly) picking the same, say six out of 80 numbers, and then having those numbers selected in a random drawing is less than one with fifty-million zeros after it, effectively impossible. (Assuming you grant everyone one entry.) One hundred to one against events occur every day. Would you get on an airplane that had a one in a hundred chance of crashing?
If it does occur, it will be millions of years in the future. The process would be slow, but inexoriable. Each Mercurial year, Mercury's orbit would become a little more enlongated. Assuming Earth is inhabited by a technologically advanced civilization at that time, they would see it coming millions of years in advance.
If we change our cars, and lightbulbs, and give up toilet paper, etc. the world as we know it IS changed for the worse.
Moving into a cave won’t improve “the world” but it’ll regress us to living like cavemen or those in the third world. And that’ll be a change for the worse.
We have it too good. Better live a little less well off, because well it’s shameful to be better off in America.
100 to 1 stretched over 7.5 billion years is very long odds.
Still a lot better than 1 with 50 million zeros.
I think perhaps you misapprehend. Although not explicitly stated there is no chance whatsoever that we will go to bed some evening and see Mercury looming next to the moon. If Mercury becomes unstable, the process will take literally millions of years. If it were to happen and we maintain our current level of technology, we will see it coming a million years before it happens.
As of today, no one can say for certain whether or not it will ever occur.
Note: this topic is from May 1, 2008. Thanks Lonesome in Massachussets.There may have been a topic about this (hard to believe, I know) that was pinged, but regardless, pingin' this one.
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All of that is before you get to any sort of an idea about electricity having anything to do with orbits or stability of course...
That purported law is really just a mnemonic, to help memorize the intervals.
s’more about TBL, from the late TVF:
Where It Began â the Titius-Bode Law of Planetary Spacing
The Original Solar System
I will admit that a collision with Mercury would do the job thoroughly, though if humanity is still around in a few billion years it is quite possible we will have the ability to do something about it.
Thanks, I wasn’t aware of those two items on metaresearch.
My pleasure. OTOH, TVF postulated an exploding planet for the K-T extinction impact events, as well as another one he’d postulated (hence his need for a revised EPH), because he remained convinced that Jupiter would clean the inner Solar System of all debris from his exploding planets within 10 million years. That of course should have suggested to him that he may have been mistaken about the source of (all, not just some) inner Solar System debris, but he was so sure he was on the right track that he couldn’t come to that conclusion.
Yeah, I’m not going to sweat it too much. Within one billion years the Earth will likely make contact (euphemism) with a plus-one-mile impactor, basically a piece of debris — and not just once, more than sixty times. And probably at least eight of those will be well over a mile in diameter.
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