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Space rock 'on collision course'
BBC News ^ | 24 July, 2002 | By Dr David Whitehouse

Posted on 07/24/2002 6:22:08 AM PDT by In Search of Freedom

Wednesday, 24 July, 2002, 02:29 GMT 03:29 UK
Space rock 'on collision course'
 
Nasa simulation
An asteroid could devastate Earth
 
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An asteroid discovered just weeks ago has become the most threatening object yet detected in space.

A preliminary orbit suggests that 2002 NT7 is on an impact course with Earth and could strike the planet on 1 February, 2019 - although the uncertainties are large.

Astronomers have given the object a rating on the so-called Palermo technical scale of threat of 0.06, making NT7 the first object to be given a positive value.

From its brightness, astronomers estimate it is about two kilometres wide, large enough to cause continent-wide devastation on Earth.

Many observations

Although astronomers say the object definitely merits attention, they expect more observations to show it is not on an Earth-intersecting trajectory.

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This asteroid has now become the most threatening object in the short history of asteroid detection

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Dr Benny Peiser

It was first seen on the night of 5 July, picked up by the Linear Observatory's automated sky survey programme in New Mexico, US.

Since then astronomers worldwide have been paying close attention to it, amassing almost 200 observations in a few weeks.

 

Dr Benny Peiser, of Liverpool John Moores University in the UK, told BBC News Online that "this asteroid has now become the most threatening object in the short history of asteroid detection".

NT7 circles the Sun every 837 days and travels in a tilted orbit from about the distance of Mars to just within the Earth's orbit.

Potential devastation

Detailed calculations of NT7's orbit suggest many occasions when its projected path through space intersects the Earth's orbit.

Researchers estimate that on 1 February, 2019, its impact velocity on the Earth would be 28 km a second - enough to wipe out a continent and cause global climate changes.

However, Dr Peiser was keen to point out that future observations could change the situation.

He said: "This unique event should not diminish the fact that additional observations in coming weeks will almost certainly - we hope - eliminate the current threat."

Easily observable

According to astronomers, NT7 will be easily observable for the next 18 months or so, meaning there is no risk of losing the object.

Observations made over that period - and the fact that NT7 is bright enough that it is bound to show up in old photographs - mean that scientists will soon have a very precise orbit for the object.

Dr Donald Yeomans, of the US space agency's (Nasa) Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, told BBC News Online: "The orbit of this object is rather highly inclined to the Earth's orbit so it has been missed because until recently observers were not looking for such objects in that region of space."

Regarding the possibility of an impact, Dr Yeomans said the uncertainties were large.

"The error in our knowledge of where NT7 will be on 1 February, 2019, is large, several tens of millions of kilometres," he said.

Dr Yeomans said the world would have to get used to finding more objects like NT7 that, on discovery, look threatening, but then become harmless.

"This is because the problem of Near-Earth Objects is now being properly addressed," he said.

 



TOPICS: Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: asteroid; impact; levy; nt7; shoemaker; spacerock
From Nasa - --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Article Posted: July 23, 2002 Asteroid 2002 NT7 could hit in two decades; 2002 NY40 passes by August 17; and a large NEA search telescope is proposed.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1.) NEAR-EARTH ASTEROID (NEA) 2002 NT7

A small NEA currently under observation has a remote possibility of hitting the Earth in 2019. The possibility will most likely be resolved within the next few days as new observations come in. It is reported here as an example of the sort of “detective work” associated with some of the newly discovered NEAs. (Assuming that you see nothing more posted here, you can assume that subsequent observations showed this object not to be a problem).

Comments from Maria E. Sansaturio and Giovanni V. Valsecchi

Asteroid 2002 NT7, a relatively large (H=16) Apollo with a still rather poorly determined orbit, has been on the Risk Pages of both NEODyS and JPL since July 18, as it is associated to a number of Virtual Impactors. With the shrinking of the uncertainty region due to the accumulation of astrometric observations, many of the VIs found associated with the initial, very uncertain, orbit have disappeared, as is normal in such cases. Of those that have survived until today, the one related to an Earth collision on 1 February 2019 has gone up in the Palermo Technical Scale, reaching the value of +0.18, according to the computations made in Pisa. This means that, for the first time, the probability of a specific impact of a Near-Earth Asteroid turns out to be larger than that of the "background".

The asteroid is easily observable; in fact it is observed practically every night, and its visibility will remain very good for the coming two months. As new observations come in, the situation will evolve in the next days and, as usual, either the probability associated with this VI will go up somewhat, or, more probably, it will disappear.

1 posted on 07/24/2002 6:22:08 AM PDT by In Search of Freedom
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To: In Search of Freedom
So...party at my house, Jan. 31, 2019. You're all invited.
2 posted on 07/24/2002 6:28:00 AM PDT by Viva Le Dissention
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To: In Search of Freedom
So much for the stock market recovering by 2019 !
3 posted on 07/24/2002 6:33:57 AM PDT by GnL
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To: In Search of Freedom
Which continent? That might make a difference in my attitude. ;-)
4 posted on 07/24/2002 6:38:43 AM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: In Search of Freedom
We'll just turn all our Marshalls up to 11 and jam "Space Truckin'".
5 posted on 07/24/2002 6:40:19 AM PDT by FreedomFarmer
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To: In Search of Freedom
Dr Yeomans said the world would have to get used to finding more objects like NT7 that, on discovery, look threatening, but then become harmless.

The larger problem might be one that appears harmless, then suddenly becomes a threat. To the unprepared.

6 posted on 07/24/2002 6:40:47 AM PDT by He Rides A White Horse
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To: In Search of Freedom
Does that mean the sky actually IS falling?
7 posted on 07/24/2002 6:42:53 AM PDT by WindMinstrel
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To: In Search of Freedom
The picture they included with the article is a bit of an exaggeration given that the object in question is "only" two kilometers wide. The one in the picture must be hundreds of miles wide.
8 posted on 07/24/2002 6:44:20 AM PDT by WillVoteForFood
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To: WindMinstrel
I always suspected that Chicken Little was right.
9 posted on 07/24/2002 6:48:02 AM PDT by Savage Beast
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To: WillVoteForFood
Hey, that's Dr. Whitehouse for you...
10 posted on 07/24/2002 7:02:13 AM PDT by Frank_Discussion
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To: Frank_Discussion
But... To be honest, Dr. W's "chickenlittleness" aside, this planet can mount a defense. We need to get started yesterday.

Actually, an outstanding way to deflect one of these things is to actually capture it and mine it for resources. There's technology that'll do this, if we'll only develop it.
11 posted on 07/24/2002 7:04:58 AM PDT by Frank_Discussion
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To: Viva Le Dissention
So...party at my house, Jan. 31, 2019. You're all invited.

Sorry, but I'm headed for the other side of the planet that weekend.

12 posted on 07/24/2002 7:09:02 AM PDT by Hot Tabasco
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To: In Search of Freedom
"rating on the so-called Palermo technical scale of threat of 0.06"

Cool. I didn't even know that there was a "Palermo" Technical Scale of Threat. But what is 0.06? What if utter certainty is 0.10?

13 posted on 07/24/2002 7:22:37 AM PDT by robertpaulsen
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To: Frank_Discussion
Good point. We should make it a goal now to change its path just enough so that we get a new moonlet. One that is only 30-50K miles up instead of 250,000. We could build a space station right into the moonlet, using it for raw materials that would not have to be lifted from Earth.
14 posted on 07/24/2002 7:24:22 AM PDT by Ahban
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To: Ahban
Exactly the spirit of what I said. Though, let's lower that orbit to about 500 miles, and that might work better. ;-)
15 posted on 07/24/2002 7:29:30 AM PDT by Frank_Discussion
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To: In Search of Freedom
I believe the good "Dr."(?) as much as this illusion of the asteroid striking the earth.

Alledged asteroid is 2 killometers around?

Rather overblown in the artists rendering, wouldn't you say?

Much like this article.

Hey honey, what's for dinner?

16 posted on 07/24/2002 7:38:08 AM PDT by G.Mason
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To: In Search of Freedom
more objects like NT7 that, on discovery, look threatening, but then become harmless.

"This is because the problem of Near-Earth Objects is now being properly addressed," he said.

I must have missed it. How is the problem being addressed?

Probably by raising taxes and outlawing SUVs or something equally useful.

17 posted on 07/24/2002 7:38:37 AM PDT by ProudGOP
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To: In Search of Freedom
There seem to have been a lot of these lately. I've started making them down in my planner, there is a NEA due in 2022, and 2028 as well as this one.

I think someone is giving us a shot across the bow.
18 posted on 07/24/2002 7:39:40 AM PDT by Grig
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To: robertpaulsen
From the space geeks:
The Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale was developed to enable NEO specialists to categorize and prioritize potential impact risks spanning a wide range of impact dates, energies and probabilities. Actual scale values less than -2 reflect events for which there are no likely consequences, while Palermo Scale values between -2 and 0 indicate situations that merit careful monitoring. Potential impacts with positive Palermo Scale values will generally indicate situations that merit some level of concern.

The scale compares the likelihood of the detected potential impact with the average risk posed by objects of the same size or larger over the years until the date of the potential impact. This average risk from random impacts is known as the background risk. For convenience the scale is logarithmic, so, for examples, a Palermo Scale value of -2 indicates that the detected potential impact event is only 1% as likely as a random background event occurring in the intervening years, a value of zero indicates that the single event is just as threatening as the background hazard, and a value of +2 indicates an event that is 100 times more likely than a background impact by an object at least as large before the date of the potential impact in question.

Not being a math kind of guy, I can't tell if a +2 means you're going to get smacked or not.

19 posted on 07/24/2002 7:43:34 AM PDT by Prodigal Son
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just a bttt.
Asteroids: Deadly Impact Shoemaker by Levy Restless Earth Collection
Asteroids:
Deadly Impact

National Geographic
Shoemaker:
The Man Who Made An Impact

by David H. Levy
Restless Earth Collection
National Geographic

20 posted on 11/10/2004 9:43:55 PM PST by SunkenCiv ("All I have seen teaches me trust the Creator for all I have not seen." -- Emerson)
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To: In Search of Freedom

Is Dr. Whitehouse sure that this asteroid is not named "Wormwood?"


21 posted on 11/10/2004 9:56:48 PM PST by nightdriver
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