questionsdid you know an asteroid just missed hitting…


Let's all pause for a moment and thank Jupiter for keeping our celestial neighborhood relatively clean of these little buggers. One gets through every now and again, but nobody's perfect.


"Just missed" is good. The alternative is not. And seeing it earlier would not help even if it was on a collision course.


Wow, that IS scary. Only one week's notice? We'll have to do better than that! Wikipedia says: Almost any deflection effort requires years of warning, allowing time to build a slow-pusher or explosive device to deflect the object.


The question isn't "if" it's "when?" Or maybe it's "how?" Possibly both.

The human race's days are numbered. The only question is how many days? Weeks, months, years, decades, millennia, eons? I guess one other question may be: just how will it be exterminated?

Don't be naive enough to believe it can be prevented.


@rprebel: seconded.

I thought I felt something go past me earlier. I thought it was a bird...


this is what happens when you run out of quarters.......


@brian188: So what you're saying is "Life is short. Eat dessert first?"

The problem with attempts at blowing these things up, or deflecting them, is the possibility of turning one speeding hunk o' rock into MIRVs hitting multiple targets, thus spreading the impact misery to multiple sites on the planet.


Guess i was out of the loop on that one. Glad the asteroid was too :)


The ones that come head on or nearly so are the ones harder to detect, and I find it amazing that this (estimated 17-30 meter) sized object was indeed found hundreds of thousands miles away. On October 10th it was nearly 500 thousand miles away so on the 9th when the image on the website is shown, it would be farther still.

We might be surprised at the amount of stuff that bombards the Earth everyday. Most of it burns up in the atmosphere, with lesser, very small amounts making impact. With more than 70% water on Earth, most is never seen.


Wouldn't something that size completely burn up before it hit us anyway?


There's always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet, and the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they DO NOT KNOW ABOUT IT!


Remember the movie Armageddon?


In related news, there's a privately funded project to launch an asteroid tracking satellite in a few years to try to find potential threats early.

I feel like we already have the technology and expertise to deflect a much larger asteroid if we catch it early enough. Given enough warning we could prevent a potentially catastrophic collision.


@samstag: I wish I had your optimism. I guess, if we had decades, we could probably do something about a potentially catastrophic asteroid collision. But given that, right now, we don't have the technology to get back to the moon (seriously, the plans for the Saturn V rocket don't exist anymore) if we had even as much as five years I'm not convinced we could destroy/sufficiently deflect a large asteroid. No one nation currently has the hardware and the engineering knowhow to get it done.


@gt0163c: It doesn't require technology, it's a simple physics problem of applying a force to change the asteroid's orbit. We've got the tech to rendezvous with asteroids and comets and the nuclear force to do the work.

We don't have to destroy it, just deflect it a tiny fraction of a degree. For example, let's say we intercepted an object on a direct collision course while it was passing through the obit of mars, which is about 34 million miles from earth at it's closest point. To make it miss by 60,000 miles like this recent one did, we only need to change it's course by about .1 degrees.


@lavikinga: Yeah, no not really.
If you let a house sized rock drop, there could be a sizeable remainder hitting something. If you blow it up, you could have a dozen sofa sized objects ... making pretty lights in the sky.
This theory was taken out of context in reference to a Florida sized asteroid. It would be more effective to move the orbit of this thing whole than it would be to actually "play" the game of asteroids, of blowing big pieces into smaller and smaller chunks.
But if you had to, and you could, blowing the Florida sized rock into house (and smaller) sized pieces would be a Good Thing.


We got to the moon less than a decade after deciding to go. It was because of a threat from another country. The reason we can't get there today is because there is no threat.

If we see an asteroid ten years ahead of time, and we know it's going to hit us and destroy the world, we'll have a craft launched within a year or two to go out there and alter its course.

The problem is that we almost never know ten years ahead of time with enough certainty to make the threat seem real enough to get the needed investment. And even if we see it two years out, the amount of deflection needed will be far too great for us to achieve.

It's far (far) more likely that we'll get a year's notice or less. At that point, we'll be helpless.