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Fraser
2003-Oct-06, 04:26 PM
SUMMARY: Asteroid 2003 SQ222 whizzed by the Earth last week, missing us by only 88,000 kilometres. The rock wasn't large, only 3 to 6 metres across, but if it had hit the Earth it probably wouldn't have caused damage as would burn up in the atmosphere. The asteroid was discovered by the Lowell Observatory and several amateur astronomers who collaborated to track its motion as it flew away from the Earth - unfortunately, they didn't notice it until it had already passed us. Objects of this size do strike the Earth about once a year, and create a spectacular fireball in the sky for anyone lucky enough to spot it.


Comments or questions about this story? Feel free to share your thoughts.

DippyHippy
2003-Oct-07, 02:29 AM
Ah yes, I quoted this story yesterday in the topic about the meteorite injuring people in India... as reported, fortunately this one was too small to cause any damage but it only highlights the fact that quite often we don't spot these things until it's too late.

This time it had passed us safely by... but we're playing Russian Roulette here. Unless something is done, one day a sizeable chunk of rock will hit the Earth and - to be blunt - people are going to die.

davepet
2003-Oct-12, 12:52 AM
I said in an earlier post that there were at least three times that Astronomers had alerted us all to the fact that an asteroid had been in a near miss with Earth. This is number 4. And that's number ONLY 4 of the ones that they have told us about.

I still say that the Governments of the world should get together and pay for a decent tracking system, because one day it'll not be a three to six metre asteroid it will be a three to six MILE asteroid.

And when we all sprout wings and start fluttering upto heaven, or wherever it is we go when we die, it'll be too late for me to say 'TOLD YOU SO.'

DippyHippy
2003-Oct-12, 01:54 AM
It may only be the 4th out of all the hundreds they know of, but let's not kid ourselves: it only takes one to hit us for a potential catastrophe to occur.

So far, we've been lucky.

Planetwatcher
2003-Oct-13, 03:07 AM
Kinda hard to do much about a threat which could cause an extintion level event.

I 'spose we could dig large caverns like they did in Deep Impact. Short of that would be setting up space platforms with a nuclear arseno to blow up an asteroid in such an event.
But wasn't there a movie about that once? Yes, the U.S. had a platform called Herculies, and the former Soviet Union had one called Peter the Great.

I would be hesitant to support such an endeaver, because as violent a people as we are, I would question
1, Who's going to control it?
2, What's going to stop a single country, enity or even group of countries from using such technology as a weapon against a country who believes differently?
3, What if terrorists got ahold of it and how to keep that from occuring?

newc
2003-Oct-13, 07:42 AM
With regards to the use of nuclear weapons to deflect asteroids in an impact trajectory with earth, I would say it isn't necessary to hold any arsenal up in space. It has no advantages from a miliarty stand point (nuclear submarines are a far more deadly threat). Moreover the space station can easily be converted to a launch pad for anything. Weapons should only be delivered up there. To our advantage, once the firework gets up there there is no necessity of lots of fuel, as long as the calculation of the impact trajectory is correct. No friction in space would come handy, in this case.
Regards to all.

Fraser
2003-Oct-13, 07:54 AM
People are doing something about it. Right now there's a program to catalog every object larger than 1 km or so, and NASA has a new proposal in the works to find anything larger than about 10 metres. I'm pretty confident that we'll get to the bottom of this in the next few decades.

The problem is whether or not governments will take action to prevent asteroids when they're still a probability. Do they send a mission when the rock may or may not hit?

newc
2003-Oct-13, 08:34 AM
Mmm I frankly doubt we will ever really get to the bottom line of asteroids. The problem lays in the fact some (go figure how many) may very well have an orbit of hundreds of years. I'd say we will be lucky if we will spot a dangerous projectile with a year or so advance (hoping it doesn't come from any blind side). In any case I totally agree that a mapping of all such (visible) objects is necessary. I have no intention of let our race end up like the dinosaurs.

Matthew
2003-Oct-13, 09:58 AM
Eventually I think it will happen, our technology will increase, better telescopes, more advanced tracking software and the like. Its an extremly possible dream. Especially if an asteroid a few hundred metres across just misses earth and scares everyone, and then the governments start to put some money behind a catalogue of asteroids.

Not that I want an asteroid that big flying next to Earth.

DippyHippy
2003-Oct-13, 11:41 PM
Alas, we can't blow up errant asteroids because that would simply fragment it into smaller (but still deadly) missiles that could eventually rain down on the Earth.

A programme recently broadcast in the UK detailed this scenario. After studying a meteorite that had fallen to Earth in Canada, scientists now reckon that the asteroids might be a lot more fragile than previously thought. The smaller ones aren't reckoned to be solid chunks of rock, but rather comprised of many tiny chunks that came together during the asteroid's formation - leaving gaps within the rock itself.

Not sure if I'm explaining this clearly... I hope you get the idea... I think I still have the programme on tape or DVD somewhere...

Matthew
2003-Oct-14, 07:21 AM
Dippyhippy, the atmosphere can burn up smaller pieces of rocks. Shooting stars were rocks and then burnt up in the atmosphere. One solid rock in much worse than 2000 smaller rocks. 2000 smaller rocks have a greater surface area, thus generating more friction than one solid rock. These smaller rocks may cause much more havoc to satellites in space, but would cause less havoc on Earth. A single massive rock would cause a huge amount of havoc on earth, and not much in space.

newc
2003-Oct-14, 03:00 PM
http://www.geocities.com/zlipanov/asteroid....html#outerbelt (http://www.geocities.com/zlipanov/asteroid_intro/asteroid_intro.html#outerbelt)

You guys check out this site (I tried to post a specific gif but it didn't work out, sorry). Towards the middle you'll find a chapter named "Orbits of Asteroids". There's an image where the poor thingy rotating near that absolute mess is Mars, while the inner guy is our rock. The outer orbit belongs to jupiter, instead.

I just hope this representation isn't realistic.

DippyHippy
2003-Oct-15, 02:18 AM
Matthew, sorry, I didn't make myself clear... if you have a chunk of rock 20km wide, blowing it up will create many smaller projectiles. Although many of those *will* burn up in the atmosphere, when you're talking about an asteroid 20km wide, you're going to have *hundreds* of a deadly size that will cause catastrophic damage to the Earth.

Trust me - the idea of blowing asteroids out of the sky has been well and truly discounted for this very reason...

IonDrive
2003-Oct-29, 12:01 AM
Originally posted by newc@Oct 14 2003, 03:00 PM
http://www.geocities.com/zlipanov/asteroid....html#outerbelt (http://www.geocities.com/zlipanov/asteroid_intro/asteroid_intro.html#outerbelt)

You guys check out this site (I tried to post a specific gif but it didn't work out, sorry). Towards the middle you'll find a chapter named "Orbits of Asteroids". There's an image where the poor thingy rotating near that absolute mess is Mars, while the inner guy is our rock. The outer orbit belongs to jupiter, instead.

I just hope this representation isn't realistic.
Newc: it IS realistic.