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Space Science

2010 AL30, Asteroid Or Space Junk, To Pay a Close Visit 136

Posted by kdawson
from the threading-the-needle dept.
astroengine writes "A near-Earth object that could be manmade has just been discovered hurtling toward us. On Wednesday (Jan. 13), an object called 2010 AL30 will fly by Earth at a distance of just 130,000 km (80,000 miles). That's only one-third of the way from here to the moon, i.e. very close. It will miss us, and if it did hit us, it wouldn't do any damage anyway, but I managed to pick up on some chatter between planetary scientists and found out that the 'asteroid,' or whatever it is, gives us a new standard: a 10-meter-wide asteroid can be detected two days before it potentially hits Earth. A pretty useful warning if you ask me."
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2010 AL30, Asteroid Or Space Junk, To Pay a Close Visit

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  • Not an asteroid? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rhaban (987410) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @06:32AM (#30748662)

    Isn't a man-made space objet, like a satellite, much easier to detect than a piece of rock because it's all metally and shiny (except in the case of a secret orbtial space station with climate laser weapons used for the supremacy of an evil overlord ready to conquier the world, but it seems unlikely such a thing would just fall out of its orbit)?

    If so, it doesn't really tell us anything about detecting a earth-crushing meteor far before the impact.

  • Close encounters (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Muad'Dave (255648) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:27AM (#30749508) Homepage

    If you can trust extrapolating the orbit backwards in time (you can't), JPL's orbital tool [nasa.gov] shows that this object had a 'close encounter' with Venus on Apr 15th, 2006. It also looks suspiciously like an Earth-Mars trajectory launched around Jan 12th, 2007. I was unable to find any corresponding launches, however.

    Real Astronomers (TM) have now discounted the object being man-made, but it is interesting to speculate.

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