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Space

Asteroid To Pass Near Earth On Monday 183

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-look-you'll-go-blind dept.
TigerNut writes "Asteroid 2011 MD was discovered on June 22 by LINEAR, and its flight path will take it within 8000 miles (12000 km) of Earth. Orbital predictions indicate that its flight path will be significantly altered by this close approach."
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Asteroid To Pass Near Earth On Monday

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  • by jewelie (752077) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @07:42PM (#36572280) Homepage

    That's deceptively close, 8000 miles is the diameter of the earth. This thing is only gonna miss us by an earths width!

    • by St.Creed (853824) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @07:48PM (#36572308)

      Pretty close :) I hope nothing unforeseen happens (like heat from the Sun causing gas to evaporate and the flightpath to deviate slightly - the scenario as described by Niven and Pournelle in one of their books). Would be embarassing.

      Fortunately even if it does hit, it's only 8-18 meters across. According to the asteroid impact effect calculator, that'd be 720 KT of TNT when hitting the ground (assuming standard parameters, 18 meters and an iron asteroid). Tough if it were to hit you, but small chance of that. Calculator is here: http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEffects/ [ic.ac.uk]

      • by davester666 (731373) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @08:01PM (#36572388) Journal

        Yup. It definitely would cause a flesh wound if it were to strike an individual. You might even get a permanent scar.

      • So the same as our tactical nukes ~ 750 KT, enough to wipe out Manhattan. Perhaps statistically the chance of hitting a major city is low, but if it does hit a city, it would be tragic and the stats would no longer matter. Even if it was a 1 in a billion chance, I'd be all for spending a trillion dollars trying to nuke it out of existence.
        • by unwastaken (1586569) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @01:03AM (#36574026)

          So the same as our tactical nukes ~ 750 KT, enough to wipe out Manhattan. Perhaps statistically the chance of hitting a major city is low, but if it does hit a city, it would be tragic and the stats would no longer matter. Even if it was a 1 in a billion chance, I'd be all for spending a trillion dollars trying to nuke it out of existence.

          You work for the TSA, don't you?

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            "Even if it was a 1 in a billion chance, I'd be all for spending a trillion dollars trying to nuke it out of existence."

            You work for the TSA, don't you?

            Sounds more like the Pentagon than the TSA. :-P

        • by mgiuca (1040724)

          Even if it was a 1 in a billion chance, I'd be all for spending a trillion dollars trying to nuke it out of existence.

          Yet (in Australia at least) our politicians aren't willing to do anything about climate change, because "maybe it won't happen."

        • by Patch86 (1465427)

          And people wonder why the US has a big budget deficit?

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        TFA says that if this object were to hit Earth, it would likely explode harmlessly in the upper atmosphere.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      The linked article mentions 11,000 miles at it's closest. This may be after the update (they mention the article has been updated, not the exact changes).

    • by Tasha26 (1613349)
      Better luck next time Arachnids...
  • We know that some of these objects are not very solid, but are loosely bound conglomerates of rubble. Is there any chance that this could brake into fragments due to tidal forces when it passes close to the Earth? Is there any information about it's composition?
    • by EdZ (755139)
      It'd be well inside Earth's Roche Limit at it's point of closest approach, but it's likely moving too fast for it to be inside it for long enough to come apart. Without knowing the density and composition of the object, it's hard to say for sure, but I'd bet against it.
      • Roche limit is defined for gravitationally bound bodies. It's not too much of a stretch to apply it to bulk properties like yield strength, but at the size you're talking about the forces are orders of magnitude off. I don't think the earth *has* a "roche limit" for solid rocky bodies.

        • by EdZ (755139)
          If this object is a solid body. There's a a good chance it's a pile of dirt and rubble just about held together by self-gravitation. It wouldn't take all that much tidal force to pull it apart, or at least shift bits of it around.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sharkey (16670)

      Is there any chance that this could brake into fragments due to tidal forces when it passes close to the Earth?

      Depends on if it has disc or drum brakes, I suppose.

  • Animations (Score:4, Informative)

    by Spodie! (675056) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @08:53PM (#36572776)

    Animations [discovery.com] Here are some nice animations of the path of the asteroid.

  • by ChronoFish (948067) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @09:55PM (#36573114) Journal
    According to the Discover Article (http://news.discovery.com/space/visualizing-asteroid-2011-md-zip-past-earth-animation-110624.html), this is within the orbit of GPS satellites. While it seems most are not concerned about a collision with Earth, what happens if it takes out a satellite (or two)? Or something worse like colliding with the ISS. I hope there are some observation satellites than can a good view of the approach (and/or pass).
  • There are 3 asteroids in that picture if you look to the right of the one the arrow points out.

  • Probably still pissed with his demotion and wants a fly-by.

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