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Space rock 'on collision course'
BBC ^ | 2002-07-23 | Dr David Whitehouse

Posted on 07/23/2002 7:00:00 PM PDT by Lorenb420

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 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 2km wide, large enough to cause continent-wide devastation on Earth.

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

It was first seen on the night of 5 July, picked up by the Linear Observatory's automated sky survey programme in New Mexico, in the southern 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 its 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 28km 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 astronomers will soon have a very precise orbit for the object.

Dr Donald Yeomans, of Nasa's 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 kms," he said.

Dr Yeomans told BBC News Online that 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: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: astroids; crevolist; goliath; space
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1 posted on 07/23/2002 7:00:00 PM PDT by Lorenb420
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To: Lorenb420
Time to send a probe to check out the satelite. If feasable, we should alter its path so that it hits the sun. A few kilotons at the right place should do this.
2 posted on 07/23/2002 7:04:00 PM PDT by rmlew
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To: Lorenb420
2019?

I guess it's never too soon to start panicking.

3 posted on 07/23/2002 7:06:57 PM PDT by 07055
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To: Lorenb420
That does it. I'm moving.
4 posted on 07/23/2002 7:09:09 PM PDT by gitmo
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To: rmlew
Ah Man!!!!! Im gonna go buy a Ferrari !!!!!!!!!!!
5 posted on 07/23/2002 7:09:25 PM PDT by cmsgop
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To: rmlew
Well, I think we oughta wait until 15 Jan 2019 and then send Bruce Willis and his crack team of miners up to blow it up.
6 posted on 07/23/2002 7:10:20 PM PDT by ShadowAce
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To: Lorenb420
Its probably already being called "The Bush Rock" in some circles.
7 posted on 07/23/2002 7:10:38 PM PDT by meyer
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To: rmlew
So what makes you think that, on some lonely night in 2019, it won't smack into the back side of the moon?

Screaming "Earth Killer! Earth Killer!" is a cry for money, dontcha know.

8 posted on 07/23/2002 7:10:46 PM PDT by patton
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To: Lorenb420
A preliminary orbit suggests that 2002 NT7 is on an impact course with Earth on 1 February 2019, although the uncertainties are large.

Looks like 2018 is the year to max out your credit cards.

9 posted on 07/23/2002 7:12:28 PM PDT by southern rock
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To: Lorenb420
I knew this would happen dammit,the same year I will retire and travel in the RV playing all those golf courses from Ca.to Fl.

Damn the luck;)

10 posted on 07/23/2002 7:12:47 PM PDT by mdittmar
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To: Lorenb420
NASA has talked of doing 100-day human-class missions after the ISS is completed. This one would probably be high on their list to send some astronauts to. The timing is about right.
11 posted on 07/23/2002 7:12:50 PM PDT by Brett66
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To: meyer
Its probably already being called "The Bush Rock" in some circles.

Look closely at the image in the story. The asteroid is seriously over-size (the story says it is about 2km wide).

And, it's crashing into the Eastern seaboard of the US -- right about at Washington, DC.

I'm waiting for Ashcroft to declare this a message to/from a terrorist.

12 posted on 07/23/2002 7:16:34 PM PDT by justlurking
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To: mdittmar
Cheat the solar system!

Retire a year early, and enjoy!
13 posted on 07/23/2002 7:17:33 PM PDT by spoiler2
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To: Lorenb420
The Mayans said it'd be 2012, so it may be 10 years.
14 posted on 07/23/2002 7:20:35 PM PDT by txhurl
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To: spoiler2
Hey,upping the profit sharing to 20% tomorrow ,that should cover it.

Starting out at Pebble:)

15 posted on 07/23/2002 7:22:41 PM PDT by mdittmar
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To: Lorenb420
The SITE HERE that covers Near Earth Events has all you would ever want to know about the math and science involved.
16 posted on 07/23/2002 7:25:28 PM PDT by KC Burke
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To: 07055
"I guess it's never too soon to start panicking."

Guess I'll be working till my last breath anyway, regardless of the stock market.
17 posted on 07/23/2002 7:26:10 PM PDT by demkicker
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To: rmlew
No, we should send Jessie Jackson to negotiate with it.
18 posted on 07/23/2002 7:26:19 PM PDT by doug from upland
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To: *Space
.
19 posted on 07/23/2002 7:27:15 PM PDT by Libertarianize the GOP
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To: Lorenb420
"...cause global climate changes."

Quick, launch AlBlow to intercept and destroy this Republican menace.

20 posted on 07/23/2002 7:29:29 PM PDT by Young Werther
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To: Lorenb420
I hope this news doesn't cause the stock market go down...
21 posted on 07/23/2002 7:32:47 PM PDT by Mannaggia l'America
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To: KC Burke
Here is a link to a Java orbit plot of 2002 NT7
22 posted on 07/23/2002 7:33:10 PM PDT by crypt2k
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To: Lorenb420
BTW, if this a a metallic asteroid we might want to try and capture it. Werner von Braun wrote a book in the early 50s that suggested that a one mile diameter asteroid if it contained the same composition of iron ore and nickle as meteors that have struck the world and been analyzed, then it would have sufficent ore to provide 500 years of stainless steel.

Since 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo landing maybe we could set this program as a long range goal for NASA and space commericalization al la Dr. Gerald O'Neills "High Frontier"

23 posted on 07/23/2002 7:35:08 PM PDT by Young Werther
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To: Young Werther
I suggest that instead of worrying about it, that based on your contention, we claim it for FreeRepublic.......now, how to keep Daschle from trying to blow "FreeRepublic" out of the sky.
24 posted on 07/23/2002 7:39:52 PM PDT by KC Burke
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To: Lorenb420
Wonder what this will do to the markets
25 posted on 07/23/2002 7:40:24 PM PDT by uncbob
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To: patton
So what makes you think that, on some lonely night in 2019, it won't smack into the back side of the moon?

We should be so lucky. That's actually less likely on two counts. The moon is a smaller target and its sucks less, that is it's gravity is weaker, so it wouldn't bend the orbit of the rock as much as the rock gets closer.

It would be quite a show if should impact the front side (just as likely). I don't know if the near side being in daylight (full moon) or darkness (new moon) would be more spectacular. Maybe the best would be for the impact site to be near the terminator, but in darkness. As the debrie cloud rose into the sunlight, you would be able to see a bright spot appear over an otherwise dark area. During a full moon this would appear as a protrusion from the edge of visible disk.

Hope I make it to 2019. Although most likely it will miss, space is large and mostly empty.

26 posted on 07/23/2002 7:46:12 PM PDT by El Gato
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To: Young Werther
BTW, if this a a metallic asteroid we might want to try and capture it.

You could probably determine from spectography if it had anything valuable on it, if it did, you could mine it, if it didn't, you could throw a bunch of measurement equipment on it to ride off with it. I read today that Voyager is still sending back data all these years later.

27 posted on 07/23/2002 7:47:32 PM PDT by motexva
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To: meyer
Its probably already being called "The Bush Rock" in some circles.

Yeah, and they will speak of a future "Bush Whacking" I'm sure. :)

28 posted on 07/23/2002 7:47:41 PM PDT by El Gato
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To: Lorenb420
Here's information about another Near Earth Object (NEO). You're going to see more and more notices about these, as we are now looking for them much more systematically than before. Click on the link inside the above link on the NEO that passed within about a 1/3 of the distance to the Moon a couple of weeks ago, and wasn't seen until after it passed the Earth. About a Km across, too.

By the way, blasting one of these things with a nuclear device isn't nearly as easy as it sounds, would need a very big device, and would more likely convert it from a single bullet to a radioactive shotgun blast, rather than make it miss entirely.

Read the literature about NEO's. We are NOT prepared to deal with an NEO that shows up on a collision course a few weeks prior to impact.

29 posted on 07/23/2002 7:49:00 PM PDT by RonF
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To: Lorenb420
The year is 2019...

"Mr. Chekov, aim phasers at asteroid."

"Phasars aimed, Keptin'."

"Fire phasers." (phasers fire).

"Spock, what effect?"

"The asteroid has been obliterated, Captain, however, sensors reveal that a Klingon warship has just dropped out of warp near Saturn."

30 posted on 07/23/2002 7:52:17 PM PDT by Jay W
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To: Young Werther
sufficent ore to provide 500 years of stainless steel.

Interesting, but I hadn't realized there was a significant scarcity of stainless steel. Would this mean that the Delorean could make a comeback?

31 posted on 07/23/2002 7:55:13 PM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: patton
Screaming "Earth Killer! Earth Killer!" is a cry for money, dontcha know.

Oh man, are you ever right!

Chicken Littles gotta have those gubmint grants to see if the sky is indeed falling. Or global cooling warming is about to do us in.

Or whatever.

32 posted on 07/23/2002 7:56:48 PM PDT by Ole Okie
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To: Jay W
</p?

sensors reveal that a Klingon warship has just dropped out of warp

kAcknor Sez:

....and don't you forget it, either. ;)

"Hab SoSlI' Quch!" (Your mother had a smooth forehead.)

Basic HTML help for new FR posters. <Ver 1.4>

33 posted on 07/23/2002 7:59:18 PM PDT by kAcknor
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To: Young Werther
BTW, if this a a metallic asteroid we might want to try and capture it. Werner von Braun wrote a book in the early 50s that suggested that a one mile diameter asteroid if it contained the same composition of iron ore and nickle as meteors that have struck the world and been analyzed, then it would have sufficent ore to provide 500 years of stainless steel.

Hm. I've gotta do the math on this one. Figure that the Earth is travelling about 66,600 mph. Take that as a first approximation of the speed this guy is moving. Then figure out how much energy it takes to make any changes in it's orbit, and that said energy has to be applied without breaking the asteroid up. NASA's going to need a whole lot more money in it's budget to get this working.

What would really be interesting is whether or not it would pay, compared to extracting the minerals from Earth. And, if we did do this, what would it do to Earth markets in these minerals. We could possibly undersell everyone else on Earth.
34 posted on 07/23/2002 8:05:08 PM PDT by RonF
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To: Larry Lucido
If I were the big cheese, (Prez that is!), I would state a goal for Planet Earth that would unify all of us. "It is the goal of the United World that ALL heavy industry would be moved off planet by 2050."

First Step, return to Moon and establish a permanent presence by July 20, 2019.

Second Step, by 2030 establish O'Neil factories at LaGrange points to process lunar material and asteroidal material into Solar Power Generating stations so that all power for earth will come from space based power plants.

Third Step, by 2050 all heavy industry is moved off planet and Earth becomes a bedroom community where all God's children can live in a pastoral paradise of our own making.

Remember, our economic system recognizes the old adage, "infinite wants, limited resources". If you look up, (or as we say "Ad Astra"), there is no limit to the resources available.

Climbing down off soapbox!

35 posted on 07/23/2002 8:07:36 PM PDT by Young Werther
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To: ShadowAce
I think CNN is counting on Connie Chung to save the world from it.
36 posted on 07/23/2002 8:11:20 PM PDT by Savage Beast
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To: rmlew
Naaahhh... Alter the trajectory so that it orbits the Earth. We could then mine it for materials for use in space. It'll drive the Greenies crazy when they look up every night and see a flying strip mine going overhead!
37 posted on 07/23/2002 8:12:52 PM PDT by Redcloak
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To: Young Werther
So - those on earth will be the Eloi or the...
38 posted on 07/23/2002 8:25:16 PM PDT by patton
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To: rmlew
Time to send a probe to check out the satelite. If feasable, we should alter its path so that it hits the sun. A few kilotons at the right place should do this.

The delta-v required to make a 2-kilometer rock in an Earth-crossing orbit hit the sun is almost certainly going to be beyond any human scale.

The delta-v required to make it miss the Earth, if it's really on a collision course with Earth in 2019, is probably far beyond our capabilities.

39 posted on 07/23/2002 8:29:46 PM PDT by Physicist
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To: Young Werther
It's probably an ordinary chondritic asteroid, but even so it would contain vast quantities of iron and aluminum. We should capture it. It's a gift.
40 posted on 07/23/2002 8:30:34 PM PDT by RightWhale
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To: rmlew
we should alter its path so that it hits the sun

It's doing about 50,000 mph. We would have to just about stop it cold to put it into the sun. Big delta vee. Much easier to capture it, and we can make handy household objects out of it.

41 posted on 07/23/2002 8:33:13 PM PDT by RightWhale
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To: Lorenb420
Maybe the Demo rats will pass a law making this sort of thing illegal.
42 posted on 07/23/2002 8:40:37 PM PDT by JmyBryan
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To: RonF
RE #34

I am sure that this asteroid will provide enough material to build Rummy's dream, space-platforms which will drop bombs and beam death ray down to the likes of Osama. U.S. military could be the first to use this material.

43 posted on 07/23/2002 8:46:43 PM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
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To: Lorenb420
2002 NT7 is my laptop operating system.
44 posted on 07/23/2002 8:55:03 PM PDT by Consort
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To: southern rock
A preliminary orbit suggests that 2002 NT7 is on an impact course with Earth on 1 February 2019, although the uncertainties are large.

I hear Saddam is already calling it The Mother of all Meteor Strikes. BTW, whomever said this was a call for cash had it spot on. It's Y2K all over again!

45 posted on 07/23/2002 8:57:50 PM PDT by BradyLS
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To: RightWhale
Capture can be accomplished by placing an O'Neill mass driver on the surface and use some of the asteroid's mass as reaction mass to maneuver the asteroid into an earth capture orbit so that it settles at one of the LaGrange points.

If its metalic then make pots and pans and ginzu knifes. If its carbonaceous then the organic chemicals can be processed for a space colony's carbon needs, (potting soil, fertilizer, and even rocket fuel. Robert Zubrin the NASA scientist who has urged a MARS mission has suggested that Phobos and Diemos which are the Martian moons, ( and carbonaceous) could be used to produce methane which could serve as a chemical rocket fuel!)

This could be a generational project to excite this era's rocket scientists! We need another Homer Hickam, (author of Rocket Boys and the star of the movie "October Sky). This past weekend our NSS club set up a display at the Dallas Science Place. We were fortunate to have a visit from two of the Garland High School students who went to the Intel Science Fair in Louisville KY. Their project was an ion engine and the acquitted themselves quite well. Two or the original Rocket boys were in attendance but they didn't have an opportunity to meet them. Still and all the flame is alive and we must continue to fan it!!!!

46 posted on 07/23/2002 8:59:11 PM PDT by Young Werther
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To: BradyLS
RE #45

If this rock lands anywhere close to N. America, Wahabis will declare that they planned this Jihad from time immemorial with the help of Allah. :)

But what if this lands on Arabia ? Allah's final judgement for straying from his words. That would be crushing.

47 posted on 07/23/2002 9:02:00 PM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
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To: cmsgop
Ah Man!!!!! Im gonna go buy a Ferrari !!!!!!!!!!!

Ya, you just might have it paid for by 2019 (big grin)
48 posted on 07/23/2002 9:09:48 PM PDT by lawdude
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To: Lorenb420

Klingon Empire
Flags

49 posted on 07/23/2002 9:13:17 PM PDT by Consort
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To: Young Werther
Yeah, I know. My Master's thesis was analyzing the prospects for profit from asteroid mining. Had to figure out the technology, look at the mining industry and world economy, the legal environment. Even calculated some orbits and did some research into rocket science. Presented the report to some hardheaded engineers and scientists and economists. They were skeptical, but eventually bought off on it. Almost 25 years ago.
50 posted on 07/23/2002 9:13:40 PM PDT by RightWhale
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