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Space Science

Asteroids torn apart by Earth 21

Posted by michael
from the better-than-the-other-way-around dept.
douglips writes "BBC News has a story about near-Earth Asteroids being broken up by Earth's tidal forces. The binary asteroid systems are studied to learn the density of the bodies, which is just the sort of thing you need to know if you want to nudge one out of a collision course with Earth."
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Asteroids torn apart by Earth

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  • by psychopoet (569103) on Friday April 12, 2002 @01:57PM (#3330553) Homepage
    The rotation curve for an asteroid is often determined by measuring the change in brightness of an asteroid over time. Plotting the light detected versus time yields a somewhat sinusoidal curve, which is usually interpreted to be due to the rotation period of a non-spherical asteroid. If binary NEAs are common, then what some of these light curves may actually be showing is the orbital period of the binary system (if they are synchronous this will be the same thing as the rotation period of the smaller component). This could mean a new interpretation of what may be behind some of these light curves.

    As a further comment, the existence of double impact craters is not necessarily suggestive of binary asteroid systems -- an asteroid is more likely to break apart when it actually enters the Earth's atmosphere than in more distant encounters, so it's probably not good to assume that the system had already broken up and become a binary during a previous encounter.
  • About time! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rick the Red (307103) <Rick@The@Red.gmail@com> on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:02PM (#3330583) Journal
    It's about time Earth started fighting back! I hope we killed all their dinosaurs, too!

    • by zangdesign (462534) on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:26PM (#3330756) Journal
      Shame on you! Those asteroids are a natural resource that should be protected for all ages. Just because we're raping the ecosystem and pillaging the natural resources of Mother Earth, or Gaeia, as I like to call her, does not give us the right to rape and pillage outer space.

      We need to set up a commission to study and develop plans for the immediate eradication of all tidal forces, especially those killer, destructive ones!
      • Captain Planet! He's our hero, gonna take pollution down to zero and put an end to bad guys who like to loot and plunder!
      • (* Just because we're raping the ecosystem and pillaging the natural resources of Mother Earth, or Gaeia, as I like to call her, does not give us the right to rape and pillage outer space. *)

        Actually, it is a shame to let all that matter "go to waste". Nobody else is using the asteroids.

        A "pristine" universe is of no value of nobody is around to see it be pristine. It is just going to slowly evaporate into nothingness in a googleplex of years or so.

        Who knows, maybe asteroid and space mining might result in better condoms or birth control techniques so that there are less humans to mess up the Earth.
        • But wait a second: if a pristine universe is useless with nobody around to see it, why would we want less people? If anything, that is a reason to have even more people, so that we can send them out around the galaxies to admire its beauty.
          • (* If anything, that is a reason to have even more people, so that we can send them out around the galaxies to admire its beauty.*)

            Unfortunately, it is probably much cheaper to grow extra people "on location" than move them from Earth.

  • Sure the Yucatan blast wiped out the dinosaurs, but if we hadn't eliminated, adaptable Mammals and Birds probably wouldn't have been nearly so sucessful in the next 90 million years. Hell, birds may well be descendants of dinos who were adaptable enough to survive the fallout from First Impact.

    That said, it's also true that Humans have to be pretty damn adaptable to manipulate celstial mechanics enough in order to avoid Second Impact.
    • Asteroid study is a beautiful thing. Not only may we owe our evolutionary path to these speedy hunks of angry rock, but without them, we wouldn't have such quality films as Deep Impact and Armageddon, and thought provoking novels, such as 2061, by Arthur C Clarke.

      Oh wait... that wasn't an asteroid, it was a comet... Of course, it wasn't thought proviking either.
      • Is it just me or did those books get worst as they went on. 2001 was quite good, 2010 rather good, 2061 passable, and 3001 left me writhing in pain. You were expecting some deep insight into the functioning of the universe, maybe find out EXACTLY what these things were and where they came from, and what do you get? A freakin computer virus! HAL shamed me.
    • (* Sure the Yucatan blast wiped out the dinosaurs, but if we hadn't eliminated, adaptable Mammals and Birds probably wouldn't have been nearly so sucessful in the next 90 million years. *)

      I wonder if this is maybe just an instance of the victor writing history. Perhaps some dinos *would* have evolved into intelligent beings otherwise. There is some evidence that some dinos *were* "warm blooded"; however, I have not seen any evidence that warm blood is needed for intelligence anyhow.

      Are we biggots about this mammal==smart thing?
    • That said, it's also true that Humans have to be pretty damn adaptable to manipulate celstial mechanics enough in order to avoid Second Impact.

      I think the true proof of our adaptability will be harnessing the power of the Evas to avoid a Third (or more!) impact.

      Apparently, it was the Angels the first coule of times, but I think we may be leading ourselves down a dangerous path to our own destruction...

  • Somebody at slashdot really really has a hardon for asteroids hitting the Earth. We've been averaging a story a month on this topic over the last year.
  • "The smaller object is about 300 metres (1,000 feet) in diameter and is orbiting the larger asteroid every 42 hours at a distance of 2.6 kilometres (1.6 miles). The two asteroids appear to be locked in synchronous rotation, with the smaller always with the same face turned towards to the larger."

    it may be a loose conection, but our moon is also locked in synchronous rotation, and was once part of earth. How the moon was created is still not exactly known. Couldn't the earth passing very close to the sun, early in the life of the solar sytem, have caused a simalr effect?

    • (* Couldn't the earth passing very close to the sun, early in the life of the solar sytem, have caused a simalr effect? [moon split]*)

      If the Earth ever did such, I doubt it would ever be able to get back into the nearly circular orbit that it is in now. I don't know of any force or phenom that forces things back into a circular orbit other than remote coincidence. IOW, once elliptical, always elliptical for the most part. Any orbit experts wanna correct me?

      The theory of the moon is that a Mars-sized body was probably in an orbit roughly similar to our own IIRC before smacking into Earth. Thus, the sum of the momentum of both is still roughly a circular orbit.
  • by Herak (557381) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @05:53PM (#3336262)
    Zeetlix: Excuse me Commander Zoltrax... won't the earthlings notice when our probe ships burst out of the astroids? I mean, astroids don't just split apart every day you know. Our whole mission will fail if they know we exist.

    Zoltrax: Ah, you worry too much Zeetlix. Even if they ever get the technology to see the astroids splitting apart, earthlings are much too stupid to realize why.

    Zeetlix: Even if they're only earthlings, Commander, eventually they'll figure out something's odd about astroids splitting up ONLY when they come close to their planet.

    Zoltrax: Nah, don't worry about it! Someone will just make up some bullshit rationalization for why it's happening, and everyone will believe it. I mean, hey, look what happened to Jesus of Planet Christ and his invasion. A couple millenia later, and they've turned the whole thing around!

    Zeetlix: Of course, you're right, Commander. Forgive me. Unleash the astroids!

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