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Space Science

Earth Avoids Collisions With Pair of Asteroids 256

Posted by samzenpus
from the stand-down-Mr.-Willis dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "According to NASA, a pair of asteroids — one just over three miles wide — passed Earth Tuesday and early Wednesday, avoiding a potentially cataclysmic impact with our home planet. 2012 XE5, estimated at 50-165 feet across, was discovered just days earlier, missing our planet by only 139,500 miles, or slightly more than half the distance to the moon. 4179 Toutatis, just over three miles wide, put on an amazing show for astronomers early Wednesday, missing Earth by 18 lunar lengths, while allowing scientists to observe the massive asteroid in detail. Asteroid Toutatis is well known to astronomers. It passes by Earth's orbit every four years and astronomers say its unique orbit means it is unlikely to impact Earth for at least 600 years. It is one of the largest known potentially hazardous asteroids, and its orbit is inclined less than half-a-degree from Earth's. 'We already know that Toutatis will not hit Earth for hundreds of years,' says Lance Benner of NASA's Near Earth Object Program. 'These new observations will allow us to predict the asteroid's trajectory even farther into the future.' Toutatis would inflict devastating damage if it slammed into Earth, perhaps extinguishing human civilization. The asteroid thought to have killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was about 6 miles wide, researchers say. The fact that 2012 XE5 was discovered only a few days before the encounter prompted Minnesota Public Radio to poll its listeners with the following question: If an asteroid were to strike Earth within an hour, would you want to know?"
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Earth Avoids Collisions With Pair of Asteroids

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  • Fearmongering much? (Score:5, Informative)

    by LordLucless (582312) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @02:02AM (#42269751)

    I guess "Asteroid Misses Earth, Just Like It's Done Every 4 Years For Millennia" just wasn't catchy enough

  • Re:Surprising number (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2012 @04:55AM (#42270395)

    Just looking at the numbers I'd place the odds at high of an impact. We're coming up on a hundred year anniversary of Tunguska so I'd say we're due for a similar impact any day now. It could be tomorrow or a hundred years from now but statistically we're due now.

    We're not 'due' for anything. The fact that a devastating impact didn't happen yesterday does not increase the odds that it will happen today, it's not as if somebody decides to send an astroid in our direction because he looks on his impact calendar and decides it's been quiet for too long. If every day has an equal likelyhood of a devastating impact happening the average outcome will reflect that likelyhood without days or impacts infuencing each other.

  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @05:58AM (#42270621) Journal

    There will be a human-made satellite that will engage in a fly-by to asteroid 4179 Toutatis

    The satellite is China's Chang'e 2 and it will rendezvous with 4179 Toutatis.

    There are two conflicting reports of the rendezvous date -

    According to wikipedia the rendezvous date will be 13th December 2012 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4179_Toutatis [wikipedia.org]

    According to another source - http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2012/20120614-change-2-toutatis.html [planetary.org] - the rendezvous date will fall on 6th, January, 2013.

  • Re:Surprising number (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2012 @07:55AM (#42271155)

    Seriously dude, learn how statistics and probability work.

    Consider this a jar problem with black and white marbles.

    This isn't a jar problem where you're taking out a white marble everyday (no asteroid impact) and tossing it away which increases the chance you'll eventually pull the one black marble in the jar (doomsday).

    This is a replacement problem. That white marble you pulled goes right back in and the probability you draw the one black one is equally likely on any given day.

  • Re:Surprising number (Score:5, Informative)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:13AM (#42272201)

    No he's not wrong. You don't understand statistics and probability.

    An ordinary coin has a 50% chance of landing heads.

    If I toss it, and it lands tails. The next time it is no more likely to land heads. It's still 50%.

    If I toss it 3 times and it lands on tails each time, the next time it's still 50% chance it'll land on heads.

    If I toss it 100 times and every single time it lands on tails, guess what the probability of it landing on heads the next time is? Yup, it's still 50%.

    They are independent events. The coin has no memory.

    Likewise if there is an X% chance of a asteroid hitting the earth on and particular day, the fact that one has not hit the earth today does not in any way affect the chances of it hitting tomorrow.

    They are independent events. One asteroid doesn't know what another asteroid did or did not do yesterday.

    Likewise similar myths about choosing lottery numbers based on previous numbers are all wrong. Despite this, the mathematically ignorant nearly all think they are right.

    This bears on your pro-gun arguments. You don't understand statistics. You just google and copy from pro-gun sites, anything you think sounds like it supports guns, ignoring the ones that don't sound like they support guns. You have no basis on which to judge their veracity.

    You honestly think copying and pasting data for which you don't understand the stats will somehow progress your particular passion. It doesn't.

    And you don't even have the manners to attribute the source of your copy and pasting. Which lowers to point of engaging with you even more.

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