Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Asteroid Near Miss

Are we due for an asteroid strike? You'd never know it, but yesterday at 13:44 Universal time, a small asteroid came within 40,000 miles of the Earth.
Late word out of the IAU's Minor Planet Center: a small asteroid will pass close to Earth tomorrow (March 2nd) at 13:44 Universal Time. How close? The MPC's Timothy Spahr calculates that it'll be 0.00047 astronomical unit from Earth's center. That's only about 40,000 miles (63,500 km) up — well inside the Moon's orbit and roughly twice the altitude of most communications satellites!
But that is not the bad news. The asteroid just showed up 2 days ago when it was only 1.5 million miles away.
This little cosmic surprise, designated 2009 DD45, turned up two days ago as a 19th-magnitude blip in images taken by Rob McNaught at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. It was already within 1½ million miles of Earth and closing fast.
In 1908, an asteroid just 3 times larger than 2009 DD45 hit Siberia. It is known as the Tunguska event. Look at the effects of that explosion:


Mauigirl said...

This is rather disturbing...

Anonymous said...

Actually, it's a good thing. Maybe the powers that be will finally decide to get on the stick.. The good news is that we already have systems in place for alerting and alalyzing orbits. The bad news is that politics has thus far prevented us from setting up any defenses. And NASA has decided to use the STEREO satellites for asteroid detection from the L4 and L5 points. ESA's Gaia satellite will hopefully do the same. (Which it was designed to do.) So there's hope... But we need to gritch and moan until they get the message.

Anonymous said...

I'am a NIBY on Asteroids