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NASA Space Science

NASA Says Asteroid Will Buzz Earth Closer Than Many Satellites 225

Posted by samzenpus
from the skin-of-your-teeth dept.
coondoggie writes "NASA says an asteroid about half the size of a football field will blow past Earth on Feb 15 closer than many man-made satellites. NASA added that while the asteroid, designated 2012 DA14, has no chance of striking Earth. Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, astronomers have never seen an object so big come so close to our planet."
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NASA Says Asteroid Will Buzz Earth Closer Than Many Satellites

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  • by starworks5 (139327) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:05AM (#42748137) Homepage

    Chuck norris was too busy saving us from north korea, to also blow up the asteroid heading for earth.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Chuck Norris doesn't believe in asteroids, because they are not consistent with young earth creationism. His one weakness!

    • by jdfox (74524)
      > NASA says an asteroid about half the size of a football field will blow past Earth on Feb 15...

      That's no asteroid: Chuck Norris roundhouse-kicked half the football field from Falcons Stadium into heliocentric orbit, after they beat the Seahawks in the playoffs.

    • Not blow up. Deliver a roundhouse kick and shatter it. See long problem 5 here:

      http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/Class/intro_physics_1_review.php [duke.edu]

      I wouldn't be surprised if the asteroid is going to miss Earth because, you know, word gets around. Don't mess with Earth. Chuck Norris is waiting.

      rgb

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:06AM (#42748141)

    "... has no chance of striking Earth"

    Famous last words.

  • by SwampChicken (1383905) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:08AM (#42748155)
    ..to view such a spectacle would be?
    • by michelcolman (1208008) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:37AM (#42748289)

      On the actual asteroid.

    • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:37AM (#42748297)

      Television or the internet. They'll have great footage made by professional astronomers, along with commentaries from said astronomers. As opposed to you sitting in your garden with a pair of binos, seeing nothing at all and freezing your balls off while your wife screams at you because you're late for dinner.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2013 @05:26AM (#42748587)

        Ehh... I have battery power heated thermal socks I will put over my balls. They will be fine. As for the wife, if she isn't passed out drunk, she will never get her fat ass off the couch long enough to make dinner.

        Unfortunately, my binoculars are broken because the neighbor thought I was looking through the window when his wife was getting out of the shower. Of course I wasn't, I was watching the TV in their bedroom in an attempt to get away from my wife.

        But hey, I'm still interested in standing in the garden looking at nothing if you want to tell me which direction I should stare at.

      • while your mom screams at you because you're late for dinner

        Fixed that for you.

  • Isn't this the asteroid that they found they were off by an order of magnitude on the size of a month or so back? Yeah, I wonder if they used the old mass or the corrected mass when they estimated the ballistic trajectory, because, you know, that might make a bit of a difference in just how far it'll miss by...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pv2b (231846)

      Why would a change in mass change the trajectory? Granted, it was a while since I took physics, but from what I remember:

      1. The force of gravity follows F = GMm / (r^2) where M and m are the masses of the two objects in consideration. Here I will use m as the mass of the asteroid and M as the mass of any other object that is not the asteroid.

      2. F = ma.

      3. From this follows that a = (GMm / (r^2)) / m = GM / (r^2). As we can see, m (the mass of the asteroid)

      This means means that the accelleration of an object

      • If the object fragments in the Earth's gravitational field then the resulting objects will definitely have different trajectories. Some parts of the asteroid could finish up in earth orbit.

      • by waddgodd (34934)

        It's not so much of a change in mass, it's a complete screwup in how they figured it, as in they found that pretty much everything they'd assumed about it to that point was wrong, including but not limited to actual distance and mass.

      • by rts008 (812749)

        is only affected directly by the other object's mass, not by the object's own mass.

        I am by no means any type of astrophysicist, but my understanding of gravity (in this context) was that a mutual attraction usually happens.
        Maybe that would account for the change in trajectory?
        Or am I misinterpreting something here?

        I agree that will not change things significantly, but only on a measurable or calculable scale. :-)

        BTW, I am not singling you out here, but what volume is a football field (or half of a football field in TFS), or even better, what mass?

        I realise you were just going with the flo

    • by 1u3hr (530656)

      I wonder if they used the old mass or the corrected mass when they estimated the ballistic trajectory, because, you know, that might make a bit of a difference in just how far it'll miss by...

      No, it wouldn't. As Galileo demonstrated for centuries ago.

      In Two New Sciences (1634) Galileo discusses the mathematics (first to apply mathematics for physics analysis) of a simple type of motion what we call today uniform acceleration or constant acceleration. Then he proposes that heavy bodies actually fall in just that way and that if it was possible to create a vacuum, any two falling bodies would travel the same distance in the same time. On the basis of this proposal, he predicts about balls rolling

  • Is this unit measured in 2D?

    • An American football field? We are safe! A proper Euro pitch? Doomed!
      • by Pieroxy (222434) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:35AM (#42748277) Homepage

        A soccer field doesn't have any size defined. It's just "between 90 and 120m" long and "between 45 and 90m" wide. So btw the smallest and biggest field, there is almost a factor of 2.7 in area. That's a bit of a margin!

        • by _GNU_ (81313)

          Still no height defined, so it would have no volume or mass.

          We are quite safe.

          • Maybe its that two dimensional prison thing from the original superman movies. Could be a whole lot of bad guys inside having a Bad Time,

          • by Pieroxy (222434)

            Still no height defined, so it would have no volume or mass.

            We are quite safe.

            "Still no height defined" implies "no volume of mass defined", it does not imply "no volume or mass".

          • But paper beats rock, so we are still doomed. Launch the giant scissors!

          • by rwise2112 (648849)

            Still no height defined, so it would have no volume or mass.

            We are quite safe.

            Well, unless it slices the Earth in two, or something!

        • The journalists are to be commended for coming up with a analogy that appropriately captures the uncertainty

          Nasa says [nasa.gov]

          Diameter - This is an estimate based on the absolute magnitude, usually assuming a uniform spherical body with visual albedo pV = 0.154 (in accordance with the Palermo Scale) but sometimes using actual measured values if these are available. Since the albedo is rarely measured, the diameter estimate should be considered only approximate, but in most cases will be accurate to within a factor

        • Thank goodness it is not a 'Library of Congress' long....
      • Worse: its Aussie rules.

      • Nope, it's a Canadian football field, so you're doomed like a moose in a canoe.
        • by rts008 (812749)

          ...so you're doomed like a moose in a canoe.

          It could be worse. You could be a moose in a conoe going over/through the Bear Whizz Waterfall, after having bit my sister.

    • Yup, it is obviously a very flat asteroid. Maybe it escaped from the Terry Pratchett disc world series. Just wait till the giant turtle floats past - that will be much bigger news.
    • General Zod is trapped in this 2D prison and will surely escape as it nears Earth.
    • They had to use the football field unit, because elephants don't fly so high.

  • Is there a chance of it hitting a satellite? I mean I don't know if they can calculate timing accurately enough to predict if it will yet. If it did I would imagine the display would be pretty spectacular!
    • I could imagine it stirring up some existing orbital debris. Turning big chunks into small chunks and changing their trejectories.

    • by Coisiche (2000870)

      I can't authoritatively state, but I suspect that the satellite distribution is more concentrated at the LEO end of the scale and much rarer at geo-stationary orbit distance. And I bet the asteroid pass is much higher than LEO.

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @05:52AM (#42748745)

      Well, geostationary orbit is about 250,000 km in circumference, and it contains about 400 satellites at present. Assuming they're each 50m wide (which is probably an exaggeration) then the satellites, in total, cover 20km of that circumference. So if we were to assume that all the satellites are in the same plane, and that the asteroid was definitely going to come in through that plane, then the chances of the asteroid meeting one of those satellites is 0.008%.

      A back of the envelope calculation suggests you have the same odds of spinning around in a circle with your eyes shut and successfully pointing at a person standing 3km away.

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        Well, geostationary orbit is about 250,000 km in circumference, and it contains about 400 satellites at present. Assuming they're each 50m wide (which is probably an exaggeration) then the satellites, in total, cover 20km of that circumference. So if we were to assume that all the satellites are in the same plane, and that the asteroid was definitely going to come in through that plane, then the chances of the asteroid meeting one of those satellites is 0.008%.

        A back of the envelope calculation suggests you have the same odds of spinning around in a circle with your eyes shut and successfully pointing at a person standing 3km away.

        Thanks, that's a very informative way of putting it into perspective. If I owned a satellites I would not be over-worried but would probably buy some insurance!

      • The asteroid might even be very beneficial! I imagine that it might knock a lot of space junk out of orbit, either decaying or escaping or just being bug-splatted to the front of asteroid and carried off.

        I wonder how much gravitational pull it will have on objects in its path, how will it affect* things that it doesn't physically touch.

        *Need coffee, had to google whether it was affect/effect, to avoid the wrath of grammar nazis...

    • by rts008 (812749)

      TFA claimed it would not likely hit any satellites, for what that is worth....

  • If there has been a miscalculation and it actually ends up on an intersect trajectory, you may find that you no longer feel dejected about not getting a Valentine's card.

    • No, instead I'll finally stop feeling dejected because for over 40 years our space programs have been loosing steam, creeping along slow as molasses, when it's perfectly clear that we're still blind as bats and more defenseless than kittens when it comes to space.

      That's a heartache I feel EVERY day, not just Valentine's. Candies and shit?! Are you serious? It's 100% garaunteed WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE from one of these damned rocks (if something else doesn't get us first) if we don't do something! The

  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @05:06AM (#42748461)
    The Stupid Fucking Article linked doesn't even say how close the fucking asteroid will come.

    Why source a story sourced from NASA to some wanker's blog in Network World"?Presuambly this asshole just submitted it himself to get more pageviews.

    The actual NASA story is Record Setting Asteroid Flyby [nasa.gov] And it actually tells you that "On Feb. 15th an asteroid about half the size of a football field will fly past Earth only 17,200 miles above our planet's surface." (Sadly even NASA use the inane "football field" measure, but goes on to say "It measures some 50 meters wide".)

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      What's inane about it? I don't have a ready shorthand of things x metres across in my head to get a grasp of the scale, so they're doing me a favour. For nontechnical readers they're making it slightly more tangable than "space thing you don't understand is flying near Earth".

      • by 1u3hr (530656)

        What's inane about it? I don't have a ready shorthand of things x metres across in my head

        Well, I don't have a mental shorthand of what kind of "football field" the guy is talking about. Anyway, you could as easily say 50 yards which is an actual unit in the real world that everyone knows, even if they don't watch football.

    • Sadly even NASA use the inane "football field" measure

      ... which is especially vexing to people like me who hate football. Would it kill them to use "soccer field"?

  • Didn't you say that you wanted to capture an asteroid? Here is your chance, go for it.

  • Put up a net, catch it, mine it, profit!!!
    • by JTsyo (1338447)
      Doubt the profit.

      It measures some 50 meters wide, neither very large nor very small, and is probably made of stone, as opposed to metal or ice.

      What is the going rate for stone? To catch it would require a lot of effort, even if the asteroid was pure gold, it might not be worth it.

  • Which half? The home teams half or the visiting teams half?

    Seriously though, can't they find some 3d object of the appropriate size for a comparison, rather than a 2d surface

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