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Space Science

Asteroid Will Make Close Pass To Earth 119

Posted by samzenpus
from the skin-of-your-teeth dept.
The Bad Astronomer writes "News is starting to spread about a small 45-meter-wide asteroid called 2012 DA14 that will make a close pass to Earth on February 15, 2013. However, some of these articles are claiming it has 'a good chance' of impacting the Earth. This is simply incorrect; the odds of an impact next year are essentially zero. Farther in the future the odds are unclear; another near pass may occur in 2020, but right now the uncertainties in the asteroid's orbit are too large to know much about that. More observations of DA14 are being made, and we should have better information about future encounters soon."
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Asteroid Will Make Close Pass To Earth

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  • Re:Good riddance (Score:1, Insightful)

    by EchoRomeo (2582713) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @05:55PM (#39242133)
    I don't see how that applies to this.
  • Re:Good riddance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wanzeo (1800058) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @06:08PM (#39242191)

    Not this time, the article says it is expected to pass between us and Geostationary orbit. Even if it does impact intact, the worst the damage could be would be comparable to the Tunguska event.

    Depending on location, it could be very bad, but not an extinction event. You are right though, if it was bigger, we would be screwed. Not even Bruce Willis could save us with one year notice.

    If it does hit, maybe it will convince those with the cash that asteroid defense is a worthwhile expense.

  • by regdul (2561319) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @06:21PM (#39242273)
    Don't know if trolling It's about energy – you would need a big pebble to do any damage if you were to throw it by hand, but accelerate it and it does some damage. A bullet is smaller than a pebble
  • Re:Good riddance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2012 @06:28PM (#39242303)

    If it does hit, maybe it will convince those with the cash that asteroid defense is a worthwhile expense.

    But it isn't. The chance of anything important being hit is almost nil, while defending from asteroids is extremely expensive. It just isn't cost-effective.

  • Cost effective?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2012 @06:41PM (#39242381)

    If it does hit, maybe it will convince those with the cash that asteroid defense is a worthwhile expense.

    But it isn't. The chance of anything important being hit is almost nil, while defending from asteroids is extremely expensive. It just isn't cost-effective.

    Just look at our wars on "Terror" and "Drugs". Do you honestly think cost effectiveness is ever considered?

    Now defending from asteroids won't be politically feasible until we actually get hit by one - when people can actually see it and experience the impact, death and destruction. Some millions of years old crater in a desert is nothing.

  • Re:Good riddance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2012 @07:23PM (#39242641)

    Trouble is, a single rocket with a single nuke isn't likely enough to fix a civilization-destroying rock.

    Also, given the choice between practically any expenditure and world civilization, of course it's worthwhile. But by the time we get that choice, it's too late to do anything. At the moment, it's something like "building and maintaining a rocket with a nuke" for "1 in a million annual risk to global civilization".-- you can't just say that such a rock is eventually inevitable, because asteroid defense isn't something you buy once and put on the shelf in addition to the upkeep and periodic replacement of weapons, there's the cost of a concerted monitoring program to detect a threat early enough and with an accurate enough orbital solution that the gentle tap of a nuke will eliminate the risk.

    It's not easy to come up with actual numbers, but once you factor in the possibility (IMO likelihood) that civilization may well end long before such an impact, it would not be entirely surprising to find that it's actually economically saner to hope for the best than to make preparations.

    (It's analogous to a civilian in low-crime areas considering the purchasing and wearing Type III body armor -- the cost, discomfort, and hassle of wearing it for a day is certainly less expensive than dying from a rifle shot, but the odds of ever encountering such a situation are so low it's not worthwhile.)

  • by Xocet_00 (635069) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @10:01PM (#39243611)
    But the Earth is much larger than a bowling pin. I'd say that passing passing within a few Earth radii is of us is a fair definition of a near miss.

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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