Posts Tagged ‘asteroid’

House-Size Asteroid Zooms Close by Earth

March 19, 2011 Comments off

This NASA graphic depicts the orbit (blue curve) of asteroid 2011 EB47, which will pass close by Earth within the orbit of the moon on March 16, 2011, one day after it was discovered. The asteroid poses no threat of impacting Earth.

This NASA graphic depicts the orbit (blue curve) of asteroid 2011 EB47, which will pass close by Earth within the orbit of the moon on March 16, 2011, one day after it was discovered. The asteroid poses no threat of impacting Earth.

An asteroid the size of a house zoomed by Earth Wednesday, flying within the orbit of the moon just one day after astronomers spotting the space rock in the sky, NASA says.

The small asteroid 2011 EB74 was about 47 feet across and posed no threat of hitting Earth, since it was too small to survive the trip through the planet’s atmosphere.

Instead, the asteroid passed our planet at a comfortable distance of about 203,000 miles when it made its closest approach at 5:49 p.m. EDT, NASA officials said.

For comparison, the average distance between the Earth and the moon is about Read more…


Target Earth: Near Earth Asteroids Swarming the February Skies

February 14, 2011 Comments off
Near Earth Object 2006 WJ3
Near Earth Object 2006 WJ3
Photo by Steve E. Farmer Jr.

February 12, another newly discovered hazardous asteroid (PHA) was announced. As most other NEO’s in the past, this one safely passed by Earth…this time.

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid 2011 CU46 was announced on February 12, 2011. This hazardous asteroid did not drift by Earth at only a few thousand miles as in the case of Near Earth Object 2011 CQ1; 2011 CU46 safely passed by at a distance of a little more than 316,000 miles – which is still considered a “near miss” in astronomical terms. PHA 2011 CU46 has a diameter of 20m – 50m; and this particular object would likely cause a massive fireball and surface damage if it were to impact Earth in a populated area.

Potentially Hazardous Asteroids & Near Earth Objects

As defined by NASA, A Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) is based on parameters that measure the asteroid’s potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth. An asteroid which comes within an orbital intersection distance of 0.05 AU with Earths orbit and is of a diameter of 110m – 240m, is normally identified as a potentially hazardous object. Other factors are also included.

Since the February 4 announcement of NEO 2011 CQ1, over forty more Near Earth Objects have been discovered, identified, and catalogued.

Apophis Likely to Miss, What about PHA 2011 AG5?

PHA 2011 AG5 was discovered by Mt. Lemmon Survey on January 8, 2011. After more than one-hundred extra observations of this Potentially Hazardous Asteroid were collected by both amateur and professional astronomers, orbital elements were calculated and it was determined that 2011 AG5 could possibly impact Earth in the year 2052. More observations and research is needed to refine the orbit of this asteroid.

Near Earth Object 2006 WJ3 - Photo by Steve E. Farmer Jr. Comet 81P/Wild - Photo by Steve E. Farmer Jr. Comet 4P/Faye - Photo by Steve E. Farmer Jr. Comet 177P/Barnard 2 - Photo by Steve E. Farmer Jr.

2011 AG5 is very similar to the famous asteroid Apophis which could possibly impact the Earth in the year 2036. Apophis is a little larger in diameter that 2011 AG5 and is expected to pass by Earth twice as close as 2011 AG5. Both of these minor planets are large enough to cause substantial damage to a major city on Earth if impact were to occur, but with any luck these minor planets will spare Earth and safely pass us by.

Preparing for Asteroid Impact

It’s only a matter of time before the announcement comes that Earth will obtain an impact from a minor planet large enough to cause wide-spread damage. It is this reason why more studies be performed on minor planets – to help further improve our understandings on these objects in hopes to give us a better defense option when that announcement comes. We have the technology to detect these hazardous objects and certain programs are working on methods to deflect or destroy asteroids. With any luck, they will design a fail-proof method to eliminate the potential risk from these objects impacting Earth.

Astronomy: “The Taurid Stream: A Cosmic Trail With Destruction In Its Wake”

February 8, 2011 2 comments

by Nick Nuttall

“Over the next few weeks the Taurid stream, a procession of vast cosmic rubble and dust that snakes around the Sun and out towards Jupiter, will swing through Earth’s orbit for the first of its bi-annual crossings. Within the stream are probably thousands of bodies including asteroids, mountain-and island-sized boulders, smaller meteoroids, Encke’s Comet and assorted fragments of celestial refuse.

The exact number, size and location of objects, however, remains a mystery and according to Dr. Mark Bailey, research Fellow in astronomy at Manchester University, it is likely that for every object which is confirmed, there are nine others that have so far eluded detection. All that is certain is that the rubble, believed by some astronomers to have been formed by a collision in the asteroid belt of a defunct comet which was captured by the solar system up to 30,000 thousand years ago, will bisect Earth’s orbit in late June and again in November. 

According to astronomers such as Dr. Victor Clube, of Oxford University’s Department of Astrophysics, the coming and goings of the Taurid stream should be a source of concern to politicians, planners and anyone who cherishes life on Earth. A ”catastrophist”, Dr. Clube is one of many astronomers who are convinced that Read more…

Asteroid impact caused huge scar on Jupiter

January 28, 2011 Comments off

A massive scar that appeared in Jupiter’s atmosphere last summer was caused by an asteroid ‘the size of the Titanic’, says NASA.

By examining the signatures of the gases and dark debris produced by the impact shockwaves, the team deduced that the object was more likely a rocky asteroid than an icy comet.

“Both the fact that the impact itself happened at all and the implication that it may well have been an asteroid rather than a comet shows us that the outer solar system is a complex, violent and dynamic place, and that many surprises may be out there waiting for us,” said NASA astronomer Glenn Orton. “There is still a lot to sort out in the outer solar system.”

Before this collision, scientists had thought that the only objects that hit Jupiter were icy comets whose unstable orbits took them close enough to be sucked in by gravitational attraction. It was believed that Jupiter had already cleared most other objects, such as asteroids, from its sphere of influence.

The July 19, 2009 object likely hit Jupiter between 9 am and 11 am UTC.

As it fell through Jupiter’s atmosphere, the object created a Read more…