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NASA Space Science

Small Asteroid To Pass Close To Earth Tomorrow 126

Posted by Soulskill
from the bruce-willis-alert-color-mauve dept.
Matt_dk writes "A small asteroid will pass very close to Earth this Tuesday. Astronomers are still tracking the object, now designated as 2010 TD54, and various estimates say it should come within anywhere from 52,000 km (33,000 miles) to 64,000 km (40,000 miles) on October 12, with closest approach at approximately 11:25 UT."
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Small Asteroid To Pass Close To Earth Tomorrow

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  • Fuuny coincidence? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ls671 (1122017) * on Monday October 11, 2010 @03:56PM (#33862506) Homepage

    In other news "retired Air Force officer, Stanley A. Fulham", whoever that guy might be, "predicts October 13, 2010 as the date for a massive UFO display over the world’s principal cities". ;-) Given the distance, can we really be sure it is an asteroid ?

    http://www.disclose.tv/forum/october-13-2010-worldwide-ufo-display-t33304.html [disclose.tv]

    • by Thud457 (234763)
      X-37B? Oh, wait, they found that already. [space.com] holy crap, there really is an app for that...
    • Nice, but a real pity...I was really enjoying it up until:

      ...through the services of a world renowned channeler, the author has communicated with an ethereal group of entities known as the Transcendors... "
      • by ls671 (1122017) *

        In realty, we are called the Asgards, how dare you doubt our existence ?

        We continue to exist and influence things long after the last of us has left its primitive physical body ;-)

  • by kellyb9 (954229) on Monday October 11, 2010 @03:58PM (#33862528)
    Please place Bruce Willis on standby.
    • nah, leave that annoying Russian guy on the asteroid instead.

      • by bwintx (813768)

        nah, leave that annoying Russian guy on the asteroid instead.

        But be sure to take his wrench. You never know...

      • by hairyfeet (841228)
        Hey! What did Yakov ever do to you? And where would /. be without the Russian Reversal? In Soviet Russia Asteroid leaves annoying YOU!
        • Good use of the Russian Reversal there I'll admit, but I was talking about Peter Stormare's Lev Andropov character in the 1998 film, in case y'all didn't pick up on that.

          My previously-designed Magic card for Yakov:

          Name: Yakov Smirnoff
          Mana Cost: 1 Blue, 1 Colorless
          Legendary Creature - Human
          Rules Text: Untap Yakov, pay 1, say something that refers to a Slashdot meme: Switch target creature’s power and toughness until end of turn.
          Flavor Text: In Soviet Cartamundi plant, cardboard prints YOU!
          Power/Toughne

          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            I knew who you were talking about (yet another reason why /. needs joke and sarcasm tags) but here "annoying Russian" is a title usually reserved for old Yakov, who BTW is running his place down in Branson. My GF went and saw him not too long ago and says like Henny Youngman kept beating the dead horse he is still cranking out the old Russian reversal. Personally i thought Stormare should have gotten more credit for playing Lucifer in Constantine. Sure the movie itself wasn't great but Stormare gave Lucifer

            • I am not really up on films for the most part, old or new, so I'm gonna have to trust you on that one. :P

              • by hairyfeet (841228)
                Nice thing about the net is, you don't. Here is Stormare [youtube.com], Pacino [youtube.com] and Pacino Pt2 [youtube.com] and finally Mortensen [youtube.com]. I think Viggo's brings the most darkness, but Stormare really nails the malice and seems to turn it on and off. Check it out and judge yourself!
                • I haven't watched the other vids, but I do like the way Stormare handles it.
                  Kind of interesting to be surprised by an actor in a different type of role.

                  • by hairyfeet (841228)

                    They really don't give Stormare enough credit for his chops IMHO. That is also why I like to see actor's interpretations of Satan. It is such a character that in order to keep from just being "ohh I'm evil, boo!" an actor really has to bring their A game to the role or they will come out hammy. Stormare brings almost a lighthearted touch, with his playing around with lighting his cigarette. you can almost like the guy....until he gets pissed off, then the malice comes through. While I'd say Mortensen wins o

                    • Yeah, Pacino was about as subtle as Sherman's March, similar for the guy who he was feeding off of.
                      Yeah, 'tis an iconic character

    • Please place Bruce Willis on standby.

      Yet another stupid movie. 1st off, they'll need to reach the asteroid when it is within the shuttle's range (600 miles), which gives them about 1 second to drill their hole, insert the a-bomb, and detonate it. Which would just leave a large cluster of radioactive debris crashing into the Earth a few seconds later.

      Even if you extended the Shuttles range 10x, that would still give you less than a minute to do something.

      Blowing it up into tiny fragments would still not stop it's destructive effects. All that m

    • I've been hoping for that for years.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday October 11, 2010 @04:04PM (#33862594) Homepage

    I was kinda alarmed when I read the name "2010 T" which means it was discovered in the first half of October, 2010 (as opposed to discovered in the second half via time travel). And in fact TFA says it was discovered Oct 9.

    TFA also says it's a pretty small asteroid only a few meters across, which is a pretty good excuse for not finding it sooner (and makes it Mostly Harmless), but still... More funding to asteroid finding/tracking pls thx.

    • I'm never alarmed at this kind of stuff. Same thing with terrorism.

      OTOH, driving (traffic accidents) and heart disease is something that I'm mildly concerned about. The odds are, those are things will take me out prematurely.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chris Burke (6130)

        Sure if all you care about is yourself.

        Me, I think it's pretty rational to be alarmed by things with the highest probability of killing me or someone I love, or things with a very low probability of killing me, everyone I know and love, and possibly the entire human species.

        In the latter category asteroid impacts would be less alarming than the Cuban Missile Crisis, but I think my level of concern is commensurate with that reality.

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          Yeah, but the way things are going, I think it's much more likely that all of us (or a large number of us) die off from simultaneous heart attacks, then the odds of getting hit by a species killing asteroid. To be more serious, it's much more likely that someone in my family, or a large part of my family will be taken out by a single event like a car crash. I think the most likely things we should worry about, even if we aren't selfish are heart attacks and car crashes. That's why I ride a bike everywhere
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nyeerrmm (940927)

        Alarmed is certainly an overreaction. However, that doesn't mean it should be ignored -- kind of like terrorism. Plus, unlike terrorism, taking precautions on the NEO threat doesn't interfere with civil rights, and hasn't seen significant overreaction on the part of the general public.

        Detection programs cost tens of millions of dollars, and even a mitigation testbed for a modest sized asteroid is only around $500 million. These kinds of programs have scientific benefit as well (and costs are on par with

    • by GrumblyStuff (870046) on Monday October 11, 2010 @04:48PM (#33863014)

      Heh, yeah, I can see it now.

      "Why does the President want to spend money looking at the sky?! He should be looking at the bottom line!"

      "Is there something he doesn't want us to find on the ground?"

      "Look, the Earth is 75% water and only half of it would be facing bombardment. Add that up and we've got a negative 25% chance to be hit!"

      "Asteroid monitoring? What's the use in that?"
      Cue asteroid strike a la Bobby Jindal and volcano monitoring [huffingtonpost.com].

  • no bigger than a chihuahua's head.

    • by samkass (174571)

      Or about the size of 1 book from the Library of Congress.

    • by laejoh (648921)
      "Que sera, sera, Whatever will be, will be; The future's not ours to see. Que sera, sera, What will be, will be."
  • FTFA

    A five-meter-sized near-Earth asteroid from the undiscovered population of about 30 million would be expected to pass daily within a lunar distance, and one might strike Earth’s atmosphere about every 2 years on average.If an asteroid of the size of 2010 TD54 were to enter Earth’s atmosphere, it would be expected to burn up high in the atmosphere and cause no damage to Earth’s surface.

    Is it because we know about it? If this happens daily and would cause no harm if striking the Earth...then why is it newsworthy?

    • by vlm (69642)

      Is it because we know about it?

      Bingo. This time we found it 2 or so days ahead of closest approach. Usually we don't find out until you look up and see a meteor streaking across the sky, or even worse, discover it a couple days later in historical photos.

      I always thought from a ham radio perspective it would be interesting to try "scheduled meteor scatter" not where you schedule an attempt in a general sense and hope a meteor flys by, but where you select your little individual tiny meteor. Would certainly save a lot of overheated amp

    • Re:Why is this news? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday October 11, 2010 @04:42PM (#33862938) Homepage

      First, yes, because we know about it.

      Second, because this is actually passing much closer than the lunar orbit and is thus not a daily event.

      Third, because we do know about it, but also know it would most likely cause no damage, is information worth conveying.

      Fourth, because some of us are quite interested in space and space objects and the field of asteroid tracking, especially as it relates to near earth objects.

      Fifth, because there's a slim chance we could see it! TFA says you'd need a "moderate" sized telescope, which could mean a lot of things in different contexts. The JPL NEO tracker page gives an absolute planetary magnitude of 28, which if my math is right is 10.8 apparent magnitude ideally (i.e. appears 'full' from our perspective, is roughly spherical etc) Which would be within the capabilities of plenty of amateur telescopes.

      Ultimately and obviously, how much this is newsworthy to you is subjective. But I think it's cool.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Spatial (1235392)

        Check out this video [youtube.com].

        An animated overview of the Solar System showing the last 30 years of asteroid discoveries and their orbits. It's to scale, created from real data. Pretty awesome.

      • I only believe half of what i read.
        You: Second, because this is actually passing much closer than the lunar orbit and is thus not a daily event.
        TFA: A five-meter-sized near-Earth asteroid from the undiscovered population of about 30 million would be expected to pass daily within a lunar distance,
        Guess which half?
        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          Sorry, I don't get your meaning. Are you saying you think they're low-balling the number of asteroids that pass within a lunar distance to earth? Or high-balling? Because otherwise, it's kind of a given that if passing within a lunar distance is a daily event, that passing much closer would be much-squared less frequent.

    • I guess it is obvious now that I read the article, but I find it interesting that the meteors that actually hit the earth must be a lot bigger than people think before they hit the atmosphere. Since they say this one would probably burn up and not even hit the earth were it even on a collision course, how big does an asteroid have to be in order to actually impact?
    • by geekoid (135745)

      We certainly would want astronomy to interfere with an Apple story on /., now would we~

  • by vlm (69642) on Monday October 11, 2010 @04:18PM (#33862700)

    Geosync is only 26200 miles ... the uncertainty is almost large enough that it could hit a geosync satellite. If only they provided a std deviation or some other probability metric.

    • by Phleg (523632)
      There is a lot of volume in space. The odds that this hits any satellite in orbit are virtually nil.
    • by jayrtfm (148260)

      put one pin on a random lane in a bowling alley. Blindfold yourself at the entrance to the alley, then walk to the lane and bowl the pin down.
      It's kinda like that, only the pin is also moving at 7,000 mph

      • As is the bowling ball.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vlm (69642)

        put one pin on a random lane in a bowling alley. Blindfold yourself at the entrance to the alley, then walk to the lane and bowl the pin down.
        It's kinda like that, only the pin is also moving at 7,000 mph

        And the pin is a critical piece of national infrastructure, that costs $10B to replace, with a multi year lead time... and you don't get to toss one ball, but randomly a couple per month, almost all of which we don't know about until after the ball is thrown... I wouldn't expect failure every time, or even a given time, but its gotta happen sooner or later.

    • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

      The JPL HORIZONS data tend to have covariance data for their ephemerides. Might look it up there if you're interested. Unfortunately, six-state covariance matrices don't fit well in public articles, a range of values which probably correspond to an RMS 3-sigma value are the best you're going to get.

    • by arisvega (1414195)
      .. and the error bar roughly equals the Earth's diameter. So it might hit the Earth. Or it mightn't.
  • from TFA:
      "its closest approach to Earth's surface at an altitude of about 45,000 kilometers"

    Only in astronomical terms would 45,000 KM be called close...

      "At that time, the asteroid will be over southeastern Asia in the vicinity of Singapore. "

    And I would not call 45,000km as "in the vicinity of' when even South America is only about 1/5 of the distance further away...

    • Re:close? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gmuslera (3436) on Monday October 11, 2010 @04:30PM (#33862804) Homepage Journal
      In a sense, is far, is more than 3 whole earths side to side of distance. No, you will not hear a "zing!" when it passes over.

      In the other hand, was discovered just 2 days ago. If a bigger one coming with a bit more accuracy is discovered now won't be anything that could be done, the plans that are actually to deal with possible impacts implies maybe years,
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by amRadioHed (463061)

      I think what they mean to say is that the point on the Earth that the asteroid will be directly over at closest approach is in the vicinity of Singapore, not the asteroid itself.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      That's a helluva lot closer than the moon, and most people consider that pretty close.
  • Comparisons (Score:5, Informative)

    by pgn674 (995941) on Monday October 11, 2010 @04:28PM (#33862778) Homepage
    International Space Station: 229 miles
    Geosynchronous orbit: 26,200 miles
    Moon: 236,216 miles
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by aarenz (1009365)
      Please read article, the distance is measured from the center of the earth. So it is only 28,000 miles from the surface, which is right in the gesynch range, based on size, composition and speed, it could vary more than 2,000 miles during its pass near our big old earth. Goodbye dish network, or maybe that sat phone uplink from midway island.
    • by syousef (465911)

      International Space Station: 229 miles

      Geosynchronous orbit: 26,200 miles

      Moon: 236,216 miles

      What about the important stuff? Nearest McDonalds?

  • Hype? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anomalyx (1731404) on Monday October 11, 2010 @05:02PM (#33863140)
    From TFA:

    A five-meter-sized near-Earth asteroid from the undiscovered population of about 30 million would be expected to pass daily within a lunar distance, and one might strike Earth’s atmosphere about every 2 years on average.

    So really this happens all the time.

    If an asteroid of the size of 2010 TD54 were to enter Earth's atmosphere, it would be expected to burn up high in the atmosphere and cause no damage to Earth's surface.

    AND nobody will notice if it does decide to visit our planet. Maybe it will even hit one of those "dead satellites" and do its bit to clean up the junk in geosync for us.

    I suspect this article is nothing but NASA's way of saying "moar $$$ pl0x!!!!!1"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I know you're being sarcastic, but if it did nail a GEO sat, that would make the GEO orbit belt a lot messier and more dangerous...
    • by jaa101 (627731)

      Yes, it happens all the time and satellites get hit way less than the earth because, think about it, their surface area is *way* less. Sadly, hitting satellites will make the orbital debris problem worse since every hit just makes more smaller pieces. Even little pieces are a disaster for other satellites at 10km/second, though they fall out of orbit faster.

      Interestingly, the frequency of hits is inversely proportional to mass (weight) of the object. Guessing this thing weighs about a 100 tonnes (probabl

    • by geekoid (135745)

      If ti heats a satellite, it could trigger a cascade event by spreading debris. So yeah, it could be an huge issue.
      It's an important issue, and there needs to be funding for a global search for the objects.

  • by afabbro (33948) on Monday October 11, 2010 @06:07PM (#33863638) Homepage

    ...but will not, alas, hit it.

    Why is the post-apocalyptic paradise just out of reach? After 40 years of Cold War teasing, I was almost ready to give up hope, but asteroids still mock us. I cry at all the missed opportunities.

  • All of you showing concern over this event should have a gander at orbit@home [psi.edu], a distributed computing approach to monitoring near-Earth asteroid activity.
  • You know it's going to change course and enter earth's atmosphere, unleashing a horde of super-nanonites that will massively replicate and rapidly consume all the resources of earth.....

  • FTA:

    A newly-discovered car-sized asteroid will fly past Earth early Tuesday.

    Don't complain about stupid jokes. In space no one can hear you, on Slashdot no one cares.

  • Paraphrasing, an asteroid this size would burn up in our atmosphere.

    Move along, nothing to see here.
  • NASA has intercepted a stream messages being constantly coming from the "asteroid". It has been decoded. It says, "Attention Heaven's Gate. Your pick up time is in 24 hours. Please prepare. Sorry for the delay"
  • I for one will sleep in my corrugated tin shed with a loaded shotgun and rations and wait to welcome our new zombie overlords...
  • What should I do? Take my hat off

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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