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Space Science

A Rock Moves In Space 846

theBrownfury writes: "The BBC is reporting here that a very large Earth collision course asteroid has been discovered. This asteroid, NT7, was first observed on July 5th and current data suggests an impact date of February 1st, 2019. NT7 is 2kms wide and on date of impact will be approaching Earth at 28km/s. An asteroid of this size is large enough to cause continent wide destruction. However astronomers are still cautious in reporting this asteroid as the orbit of NT7 has not been fully verified. Current data on NT7's orbit suggests it orbits the Sun every 837 days and travels in a tilted orbit from about the distance of Mars to just within the Earth's orbit." The BBC article's headline (and accompanying illustration) are more alarming than the story itself seems to warrant: this asteroid has been given a 0.06 on the Palermo technical scale, which means it shouldn't bump getting run over by a llama off your list of worries.
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A Rock Moves In Space

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  • Drivers (Score:4, Funny)

    by Traxton1 ( 154182 ) <> on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:14PM (#3941476)
    God damn llama riders! Why don't they watch where they're going.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:17PM (#3941486)
    Lets burn down the observatory so this never happens again!
  • Hrm (Score:2, Funny)

    by ShishCoBob ( 516335 )
    Maybe they are just doing this so we all get worried and start to horde gas, food, and other products so the economy comes back.
  • by vkg ( 158234 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:18PM (#3941496) Homepage
    "You have 19 years to do something about a 2km rock headed for Washington. Go!"

    Nothing like a crisis to focus the mind, eh?
    • Lets just hope by then NASA gets its std/metric conversions correct or we're all toast.
    • "You have 19 years to do something about a 2km rock headed for Washington. Go!"

      16 years and 7 months.

    • Get your reservations in early...
    • by SectoidRandom ( 87023 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @10:37PM (#3941932) Homepage
      You may be joking but there is some truth to what you say, I think we may need something like this to open our eyes a little. A lot of evidence points to asteroid impact likely being the biggest actual threat to mankind, but despite this far to many short sighted politicians wont give it a second thought! Specifically I'm talking about the Australian govt who a while back cut all funds to asteroid search programs, virtually leaving the entire southern hemisphere unchecked for such potential threats.

      Hope you don't feel too safe with the fact that NASA and many European astronomers are searching the skies daily for these threats... Someone's letting us down.
      (nb yep im an aussie..)
  • terrorist! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Cardhore ( 216574 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:18PM (#3941498) Homepage Journal
    Mother nature is a terrorist! First the thunderstorms and now the asteroids! What's next? Exploding stars? scary stuff
  • Vegas Odds (Score:2, Funny)

    by hagarę ( 115031 )
    What about the chances of the Asteroid landing on a Llama? I'm taking bets!
  • NT7 (Score:5, Funny)

    by cascino ( 454769 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:19PM (#3941505) Homepage
    Well, if Win2k was NT5, and WinXP is NT6, then I suppose it's due time that the next generation NT7 makes it's "impact" on the world.
    • Nah (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Considering the record they have established lately, I consider it highly unlikely Microsoft will be ready to ship NT 7 by the February 1 2019 date listed in the article.

      They will probably just repeat the Windows ME trick, and release "Windows CANDY" in 2019 (so that they could confuse consumers into thinking that that thing MS Marketing had been talking about so long had actually been delivered on), then release the real goods two years later. Rather than the promised 2km asteroid that ends all life on earth, "Windows CANDY" will just be a baseball-sized rock that lands in Ontario, Canada, killing a small boy's pet dog.

      So we should be safe from the asteroid until 3rd quarter 2021 at least, at which point it won't matter becuase the UNIX Date Rollover Bug will have plunged the world into anarchy and killed everyone by that time anyway.
      • Re:Nah (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        And Linux may be on version 3.0 if we are lucky. Mozilla may be to version 2.

  • We need to hurry up and send a team of foul-mouthed perverted semi-illiterate oil miners into space! And for the love of all that's holy, somebody start having sex with Liv Tyler!

  • The Mayan calendar (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dgreene423 ( 88853 )
    The Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012. If 1. the projections are a bit off as far as the arrival date and 2. it does hit the Earth, I'd say this might be a good reason to end your calendar.
    • The Mayan calendar is circular so it never really 'ends'. It's like saying that since my clock is going to 'end' tonight at midnight (well technically, 11:59:59.9999... etc) so therefore the world will end with it. However, sure enough, the clock is circular so it will just start right up again tommorow, as does the Mayan calendar.
  • Those aliens are running NT7 already!
  • by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:21PM (#3941519) Homepage Journal
    Leave it to British tabloits to sensationalize a non-story. Fortunately I never see biased or inacurate stories at this site [].
  • See it happen! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crt ( 44106 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:21PM (#3941524)
    Check out the 3d view here [].

    Just fast-forward to Feb-1 2019, set the center on earth, and zoom in.
  • Remember (Score:5, Informative)

    by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:23PM (#3941533) Homepage
    The most important words in the article (well maybe they weren't actually there, but I paraphrase): More data needed. There is still a huge margin of error in the calculation of the asteroid's orbit. It just might hit Earth at this point.
    • Re:Remember (Score:3, Informative)

      by ZeLonewolf ( 197271 )

      The most important words in the article (well maybe they weren't actually there, but I paraphrase): More data needed. There is still a huge margin of error in the calculation of the asteroid's orbit. It just might hit Earth at this point.

      This is the whole point of the Palermo takes into account probability of of imact as well as time until impact. As the impact date gets closer and closer, astronomers will be more able to accurately predict the probability of impact. As time gets closer to the impact, the Palermo rating goes up...on the other hand, as time gets closer, a more accurate hit probability can be determined which, in all likelyhood will go down and thusly bring down the Palermo rating.

      Besides, a Palermo rating of 0.06 makes it just slightly more than likely that this rock will hit us than some other random unlikely cosmic event happening

      What's a better scale is the Torino scale, which is basically an impact threat scale, from 0 to 10, with 10 meaning a very destructive impact will happen very soon. This rock as a Torino rating of 1, so I daresay there's nothing to worry about.
      • Re:Remember (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Pxtl ( 151020 )
        Hmm. I'm surprised noone's read Niven & Pournelle's "Lucifer's Hammer". I suppose slashdotters are too busy reading Star Trek novels and watching crappy movies like Deep Throat^H^H^H^HImpact. If you're going to be a geek, read real sci-fi. Pournelles a fascist bastard, but Niven's a genius, and together the do good sht.

        The first half of Lucifer's Hammer is all about the scientists saying "It won't hit us" because they know the statistical unlikeliness of it all. Meanwhile, all the survivalists and sensationalists are getting ready. Then when the Hamner/Brown comet hits (on Hot Fudge Tuesdae, as named in the funniest part of the book) half the world is unprepared 'cause they new how sensationalist it all was.

        Its even got the required Space Mission - but they're just up there to study the damn thing, and are as surprised as everyone else when they watch it clobber the earth (and then the confused Chinese try and nuke the USSR - this was written in the 80s).

        Good book.
  • by friscolr ( 124774 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:23PM (#3941534) Homepage
    which means it shouldn't bump getting run over by a llama off your list of worries.

    well i was caught in a llama stampede when i was younger, so anyone within a 1000 mile radius of me might wanna consider moving...

  • For those wondering what they're talking about, NASA has a site about it here []
    • From that site:
      Actual scale values less than -2 reflect events for which there are no likely consequences, while Palermo Scale values between -2 and 0 indicate situations that merit careful monitoring. Potential impacts with positive Palermo Scale values will generally indicate situations that merit some level of concern.

      So a Palermo Scale value of 0.06 is not a total joke.

  • by descubes ( 35093 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:25PM (#3941546) Homepage
    It keeps getting worse and worse. NT5 had an estimated 65000 bugs, if I recall correctly, but at a few grams per bug (when they don't fly), nobody cared about such a tiny mass. But now NT7 would be large enough for continental scale devastation? Wow. That must be a serious number of bugs.

    On the other hand, announcing a product 17 years before it hits, come on, that's not really serious, even by NT's standards.

    You think you know about programming? []
    • by sessamoid ( 165542 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @10:23PM (#3941880)
      It keeps getting worse and worse. NT5 had an estimated 65000 bugs, if I recall correctly, but at a few grams per bug (when they don't fly), nobody cared about such a tiny mass. But now NT7 would be large enough for continental scale devastation? Wow. That must be a serious number of bugs.

      Oh, crap. Let's see:

      1) it's from Microsoft,

      2) it's got literally tons and tons of bugs.

      Obvious conclusion:

      We're all dead because it's bound to crash!

  • You mean this NT7? (Score:5, Informative)

    by whatnotever ( 116284 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:26PM (#3941559)
    2002 NT7 Impact Risk []

    It doesn't look so bad. -0.14 on the Palermo Scale (recently downgraded?).
    • by Ack_OZ ( 64662 )
      only only that, but according to the article,
      "Astronomers have given the object a rating on the so-called Palermo technical scale of threat of 0.06, making NT7 the first object to be given a positive value."

      and yet, in this article [] it says ""Asteroid 1950 DA is a very interesting object," said Dr. Benny Peiser, a spokesman for Spaceguard UK. It's interesting, "because it is the first Near Earth Object that scores higher than zero on the Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale.""
      (this article was dated Apr 5, 2002)

      it seems to me that the author got a bit too jumpy a little too early...

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )
      It doesn't look so bad. -0.14 on the Palermo Scale (recently downgraded?).

      You mean slashdot-like moderators can save us from asteroids just by modding the rock down?

      I'm impressed!

      Better a rock than me.
  • Hooray! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Ed Hacker ( 86911 ) <> on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:26PM (#3941560)
    I told my cow orkers not to worry about the unix signed 32-bit int date problem! Ha-hahahaha, I love being right! Oh, wait a minute...
  • I guess in about 17 years it'll be time to ask that girl if she'll sleep with me if the world was about to end...
  • I find it strange that there is almost 1/2 million geeks on slashdot, yet none of them have ever brought this up on these Near earth orbit stories.

    Has there ever been any contingouncy planning made in case something like this does happen? Or is it all being kept a secret from the general population (i.e. only 100 of those grey alien ufo's for escape)

    A company that did real work into this issue could stand to make a killing. Anyone that figured out a real nice way to make these NEO rocks bounce, blow up, deflect, time phase shift, or tractor away from the earth could pull some mass patents on that and laugh all the way to the bank.

    People used to say if man was meant to fly he would have wings. Well, if man was meant to blow up space rocks he would have nukes, and he does.
    • Smithers! Release the flying monkeys!
    • by WEFUNK ( 471506 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @10:51PM (#3941992) Homepage
      Anyone that figured out a real nice way to make these NEO rocks bounce, blow up, deflect, time phase shift, or tractor away from the earth could pull some mass patents on that and laugh all the way to the bank.

      Well, that's just the problem with our outdated patent system. Not enough incentive for developing killer astroid deflection systems. Before you get the chance to make your royalties, you find out the end of the world is just past your expiration date and those damn generic solutions and open source hackers are already waiting in the wings to save humankind for basement bargin prices. If you want to make any money at all you've pretty well gotta tie up your application for as long as possible and then slap injunctions on all the would-be good samaritan heroes with some killer submarine claims. We can only hope that they'll increase the term for anti-apocalyptic devices - otherwise I just can't think of any incentive to innovate.
  • ... then the asteroids will have won.

  • Time to break out _The Hammer of God_ by Arthur Clarke. For those of you living under a rock (heh heh) it's a novel about a large rocky mass headed on a collision course with earth and the world-wide pants-shitting that ensues after it's discovered.

    Good book.
  • by mo ( 2873 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:33PM (#3941613)
    This dangerous situation only get's harder to deride the longer we wait. I am doing everything I can to influence NASA to start working on getting a nuclear blast to deride the course of the oncoming danger. I agree that detonating a nuclear bomb in the course of the approaching llama is a bit drastic, but I refuse to sit idly by as the approaching threat of llama collision approaches.
  • by BlackGriffen ( 521856 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:38PM (#3941651)
    Note the picture. The asteroid in the story is a couple km wide, the one depicted was hundreds of km (big enough to discorporate this seemingly solid little planet of ours for a while). Also note that it is hitting right in the U.S. I think that the artist has some issues with Uncle Sam...

    In short, definitely unwarranted.

  • by eyepeepackets ( 33477 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:42PM (#3941671)
    1. mine it for data;

    2. use it as a platform for whatever;

    3. sell pieces of it to whomever;

    4. mine it for whatever minerals it may carry;

    5. ...and, well, you get the point. If it's coming close enough, let's turn it in to something useful.

    • by hagarę ( 115031 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:55PM (#3941744)
      pull it into earth orbit.

      Well im fresh out of tractor beams today, and I think at 28km/s I wont be pulling along side it in the Pinto. But fear not it will have a use!

      We will finally be rid of Britney Spears.
    • 5. ...and, well, you get the point. If it's coming close enough, let's turn it in to something useful.

      How about making a Deathstar?
  • by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:47PM (#3941692)
    Most of you only have 16 years to lose your virginity!

    Heh teasin =)
  • Next up: (Score:5, Funny)

    by sulli ( 195030 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:47PM (#3941696) Journal
    Bush declares war on A Rock!
    • by Hektor_Troy ( 262592 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @11:09PM (#3942053)
      After a brief press conference today, president George W. Bush was seriously mauled, when he declared war on The Rock, actor/wrestler Dwayne Johnson, which resulted in a surprise drop kick attack followed by a head butt and a pile driver by the professional wrestler, before White House Spokesperson Ari Fleisher managed to stop laughing out loud and informing the press and Dwayne Johnson that the President meant " a rock" and not "" The Rock". President Bush was rushed to the local hospital where doctors feared severe brain damage, but concluded that "there was nothing there to begin with, so it couldn't be hurt anyhow".

      The President later appologised for his mistake blaming it on terrorists who had sabotaged his statement.
  • Bummer.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:47PM (#3941698) Homepage Journal
    We may never see Mozilla 2.0. :(
  • According to the BBC, this is the first object to get a positive score...
  • ... we need a protective layer of smog. Throw enough garbage into the atmosphere and the asteroid'll burn up.

    Quick! Everybody guy a Canyonero!
  • by paranoidia ( 472028 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:51PM (#3941719)
    It was first seen on the night of 5 July, picked up by the Linear Observatory's automated sky survey programme in New Mexico, in the southern US.

    I work at Lincoln labs and acutally know the people running the LINEAR project (they are so proud that they are the best in the world, let me tell you). But for the rest of you, here is their website [].

    They find more than half of the new NEO (Near earth orbit) asteroids each year that are found. They have a telescope down in New Mexico and have the largest CCD (2560x1960 res) in the market. That's the thing that takes a digital image of the sky and compares it to past images to see if any "stars" have moved...i.e asteroid. The higher resolution you can get, the further out you can see. From their webpage, you can see they have found at least 951 NEO's. So there are a LOT of asteroids comming near us. But in space, near is still very far away. So unpack those bunkers and return to Real Life, we're still safe for a while. Also, the rate of finding new NEO's is decreasing, so that means that we've (humans) found most of the asteroids that can endanger us.
    (most of that was taken from this [] post of mine from a while ago)
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:53PM (#3941734) Homepage
    JPL has a nice Java orbital calculator Java applet []. Set the date to January 28, 2019 for closest approach. Those numbers aren't high-accuracy.

    The higher-precision text-based orbital calculator [] is more accurate. (And overloaded right now.) It has 2002 NT7 in its database. Both claim January 28, 2019 is the date of closest approach. Both claim closest approach around 0.8 AU. Remember, this is projecting many orbits ahead, and small-object orbit projection is inherently noisy because minor disturbing forces matter.

    Either we'll know it's a definite miss in a few weeks, or this will be a worry for some time to come.

  • asteroids? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Joe Tie. ( 567096 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:55PM (#3941743)
    Don't worry everyone. I spent most of my youth in the local arcade preparing for just such an event!
  • Palermo scale (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SiliconEntity ( 448450 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:56PM (#3941754)
    The Palermo scale, on which this object has a value of 0.06, is described at JPL []. According to the accompanying paper, it is intended for the use of professional astronomers and is not intended for communicating risks to the general public. A different scale, the Torino scale [], which has integer values from 0 to 10, is intended for that purpose. This object is probably a Torino 2.

    A Palermo value of 0.06 means that the risk from this object is elevated above the background risk for such objects by about 15%. (The 0.06 is the log of the ratio of the risk to the background risk.) So however worried you were yesterday about collisions with 2 km asteroids, you can be 15% more worried today.

    In short, not worth losing sleep over.

  • I was run over by a llama earlier today.
  • This should pretty much solve that pesky global warming problem...
  • Big deal... (Score:2, Funny)

    by eatenn ( 572604 )
    By the time 2019 rolls around, machines will rule the world, it'll be their damn problem.
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @10:10PM (#3941814) Journal
    this is pretty good:

    give distances both in AU and LD (lunar distances) for the dozen or so close passes that happen each month or so.

    Not that you should be alarmed.

  • Palermo Scale (Score:5, Informative)

    by ZeLonewolf ( 197271 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @10:19PM (#3941853) Homepage
    In case you're wondering what this means (and I was):

    The Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale was developed to enable NEO specialists to categorize and prioritize potential impact risks spanning a wide range of impact dates, energies and probabilities. Actual scale values less than -2 reflect events for which there are no likely consequences, while Palermo Scale values between -2 and 0 indicate situations that merit careful monitoring. Potential impacts with positive Palermo Scale values will generally indicate situations that merit some level of concern.

    The scale compares the likelihood of the detected potential impact with the average risk posed by objects of the same size or larger over the years until the date of the potential impact. This average risk from random impacts is known as the background risk. For convenience the scale is logarithmic, so, for examples, a Palermo Scale value of -2 indicates that the detected potential impact event is only 1% as likely as a random background event occurring in the intervening years, a value of zero indicates that the single event is just as threatening as the background hazard, and a value of +2 indicates an event that is 100 times more likely than a background impact by an object at least as large before the date of the potential impact in question.

    Taken from NASA:
  • by zaius ( 147422 ) <> on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @10:24PM (#3941881)
    The Palermo scale is a scale that asses the danger posed by an orbiting body compared to that which we constantly face by unknown, "background" bodies. Specifically, the Earth is 10^(palermo value) times as likely to get hit by whatever object we're talking about than by a background object of equal or greater size within the time period before the projected impact. As you can see, palermo values greater than zero mean that we are more likely to get hit by this object than by a background object; values less than 0 indicate that we shouldn't sweat it too much.

    So, the palermo value of 0.06 (p is just greater than one) means we are very, very slightly more likely to get hit by NT7 than we are to get hit by another astreroid of equal or greater size before 2019.

  • About that Graphic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DoorFrame ( 22108 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @10:58PM (#3942016) Homepage
    Don't worry about the alarmist graphic. You'll note that they BBC online site uses that "giant asteroid destroying the Earth" image every second on third asteroid story they run. Here's a few recent favorites with the scary image:

    Asteroid Impact Centre Site Selected []
    Earth at Lower Risk of Impact []
    UK Centre to Study Asteroid Threat []

    So, yeah, basically you should ignore that image. It's not related to the story in any but the most basic level; it's a picture of an asteroid hitting the Earth... a stock one.
  • moving in space (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @11:35PM (#3942160) Journal

    Regarding the title, "A rock moves in space".

    Moving in space is relative. Relative to the earth, *every* rock in space is moving (unless maybe there is something in those Lagrange points, or whatever you call them.)

    Further, the solar system is orbiting around the galactic center, and the galaxy (Milky Way) is moving toward the Virgo Cluster of galaxies.

    Personally, I don't want to go the the Virgo Cluster. Too many galaxies there to bump into and trigger nasty big-star supernovas in the process. But I have no choice in the matter.

    Damned gravity.
  • 2002-NT7 update (Score:5, Informative)

    by chongo ( 113839 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @11:53PM (#3942226) Homepage Journal
    Here are a few useful tidbits of info:

    2002-NT7 was discovered 9-Jul-2002

    There have been 102 observations (as of 8 hour ago) up thru 22-Jul-2002

    Radar images show that the object is between 2 and 2.1km in size. The mass is about 1.1e13 Kg. This is somewhat light for an asteroid of this size. This suggests that it may belong to the "pile of compressed rock" set as opposed the more solid "iron chunk" types.

    Impact speed is high, about 28.5 km/s. This speed is due to the nearly "head on" approaches for most of the close approaches.

    There is too little data and some of the observations may suffer from systematic errors. So over the next week or two the odds of impacting will change.

    Currently the odds of being hit by 2002-NT7 is about 1 in 100,000. The problem comes from how Earth deflects it during some of its close-by approaches.

    The orbit of 2002-NT7 takes about 837 days. The path takes out as far as Mars and just inside Earth's orbit.

    Close approach dates are:

    • Feb 1, 2019
    • Feb 1, 2035
    • Feb 1, 2051
    • Feb 1, 2060
    • Feb 1, 2067
    • Feb 1, 2078
    • ... and 7 years thereafter ...

    The odds, given the current limited observations, of impacting us 2019 thru 2051 are slim. The real problems show up in the 2060 and every 7 years after that. Small changes due to the close passes in 2019 thru 2051 make it hard to pin down later on.

    If this rock hits the earth then our way of life as we know it would surely end. Such an impact would be on par (but somewhat less) with the impact that ended the Dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

    It is not known where on earth it might impact. Too early to tell. Not that is matters for a rock of this size ... anyway on early will suffer sooner or slightly later.

    Looking at the raw data: when one tosses out one set data (all from the same source) that seems to have a systematic error: then things get worse. That is, the limited data minus this one source suggests that the odds of being impacted on or after 2060 are much more likely. But again, more independent observations are needed before one can say all this with more certainty.

    IMHO: 2002-NT7 does not have much of a chance to hit us before 2060. From 2060 on, things get really ugly.

    Stay tuned ...

    • by chongo ( 113839 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @02:47AM (#3942809) Homepage Journal
      When I said:

      Such an impact would be on par (but somewhat less) with the impact that ended the Dinosaurs 65 million years ago."

      The KT event asteroid [] that hit 65 million years and formed the Chicxulub crater [] ago was almost certainly larger. Estimates of that impactor have ranged from 4km to 18km in diameter with more recent evidence suggesting that the smaller size estimates may be more accurate. Others prefer the larger sizes. Even if they are correct and the KT-impactor was on the larger end of the scale, an impact of a 2km asteroid is no trivial matter.

      Assuming the same density, the ~2km 2002-NT7 has about 1/8th the mass of KT impactor. Perhaps 1/10th the mass if 2002-NT7 turns out to be a lower than average density asteroid.

      When I said:

      It is not known where on earth it might impact. Too early to tell. Not that is matters for a rock of this size ... anyway on early will suffer sooner or slightly later."

      I should have said:

      It is not known where on earth it might impact. Too early to tell. Not that is matters where a rock of this size hits. No matter where it hits, civilization will suffer sooner (i.e., near the impact) or later (i.e., somewhere else on the earth)."

      I want to repeat that the chance of impact prior to 2060, based on the current limited set of observations, is slim (1 in ~100,000 more).

      The chance of an 2002-NT7 impact after 2060 is uncertain. It is hard to estimate the location of 2002-NT7 on/after 2060 in part because of the 4 prior close approaches and in part because positions become more uncertain as time goes on.

      It is common to consider asteroid positions 100 years or more in the future to uncertain enough as to not be useful to estimate impact risk. This 100 year uncertainty limit gets shorter when one throws in 1 or more close approaches.

      While 2002-NT7's orbit position will become better defined with additional data, the risk assessment of the 2060 pass (and beyond) will remain more uncertain for some time. Time (and more accurate observations) will tell how much the next generations will have to worry or not about 2002-NT7.

      IMHO, there is nil chance of an impact by 2002-NT7 before 2060. The trend / perturbations on 2002-NT7 suggest that things could get ugly later on. Monitoring of 2002-NT7 over time, plus improved orbit models will tell how much future generations will need to worry about an impact >= 2060.

    • Currently the odds of being hit by 2002-NT7 is about 1 in 100,000

      For those of you playing at home, those odds are about 70 times better than the advertised odds of winning the Washington State Lottery.

      Think about that next time you plop down your dollar for a Lotto ticket.

      Buy asteroid collision insurance with it instead. :)
    • As of 25 July 2002, 21:00 UTC we do not have not received any new observations for 2002-NT7. The 24 July 2002 22:00 UTC orbit model remains unchanged.

      So far, no pre-discovery images of 2002-NT7 have been found. A search of pre-discovery images is on-going.

      I will post new updates to chongo's journal [] over the next few weeks. Please check my journal for the latest 2002-NT7 orbit model information.

  • by serutan ( 259622 ) <snoopdoug.geekazon@com> on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:27AM (#3942594) Homepage
    I don't know which is more scary -- the idea of an asteroid hitting the Earth, or the name "NT7".
  • by lingqi ( 577227 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @03:12AM (#3942860) Journal
    a lot can be said; but for starters -- learn about nukes before anything else:

    check it out here []

    look at the "blast" heading -- this is mostly what we are concerned with. (i linked to a higher level of the hiarchy in case anyone is interested in the other effects as well.

    anyway... you can see from the data that on earth, one megaton bomb can devastate a radious of ~3km -- which is already larger than the asteroid... but i digress, and will try to look at this systematically

    1) delivery of the weapon

    this is probabbly the most no-brainer of the whole deal. all current ICBMs go into sub-orbit already anyway, strapping a few boosters onto them for escape velocity should not be a big problem.

    it is useful to note that the asteroid will be a threat even if no impact occurs on 2019; in fact it would be a much larger threat down the line. however, the frequent encounters with it in the near future gives up plenty of time to approach it and take action.

    2) effective-ness of the weapon

    this is somewhat harder to determine. see -- the problem is that all of our data on nuclear weapons is earth-based; i.e in a atmospheric environment. -- the 3km effective radius is based on this fact as well -- the destruction is not from the blast of the weapon -- but instead the sudden compressiong / decompression of the atmosphere that transmit the detonation energy to do the destruction. if the asteroid is indeed loosely packet -- much of the energy will just escape; while if the asteroid is solid-packet -- the bomb may not be powerful enough to break it all the way apart.

    before we go further -- it is very obvious that the bomb(s) need to be deeply implanted inside the asteroid for maximum effective-ness.

    the best scenario to hope for is that the asteroid have a large ice content. the vaporization of the ice would then be the medium of energy transfer -- breaking apart the asteroids into chunks that the earth's atmosphere can handle - which is probabbly the best we can hope for.

    similar things can happen with solidified CO2 / methane / whatever. but we won't know about the asteroid's contents until later (more observations).

    the good news is that if the asteroid was ever broken apart -- the gravitational force between the pieces should be small enough that they won't meaningfully get back together.

    3) possible hiccups

    the fact is that simply not enough is known about the behavior of nuclear weapons in vacuum -- which is both very cold, and lack the aforementioned energy transfer medium. so it may be that the weapon is actually quite in-effective in space. furthermore, depending on nuclear bombs to vaporize a whole asteroid is only a dream -- nuclear weapons destroy via shockwaves, and the thermal energy is actually comparatively low for what we need to accomplish.

    this basically lead to the fact that if we press the red button, the bomb goes off, and nothing happens to the asteroid except a shockwave rings through its structure but it remains intact.

    moreover -- drilling 1km down on an asteroid in as un-proven technology at best -- so there may be tons of problems there.

    4) some alternatives

    besides straight-up disintergration of the asteroid, there can be other things to try, for example, if you insert bombs in a planar fashion - it *may* be possible to break the asteroid into two or more chunks -- and if it is properly calculated -- it should be possible to get the thing either crash into mars, or get into earth orbit. (on a side note -- this would be very cool -- space elevator baby) and the smaller chunk can be much more easily broken down by nuclear means. (this is assuming the asteroid is a fairly rigid body of iron, etc etc.

    i had some other points -- but since this *might* be the end of the world after all -- i am going to go out and try to get laid now.

    • Nuclear weapons have been tested in space. You can't use the ground-based effects data to predict their behaviour in space. A nuclear weapon can be treated as a black body radiator with peak output in the soft x-ray range. The thermal and blast effects seen on Earth are due to the fact that the atmosphere is relatively opaque to soft x-rays. This causes an absorption-emission cycle that produces a fireball and converts the soft x-ray emissions into infrared and visible light plus a shockwave created by the superheated air.
  • by Our Man In Redmond ( 63094 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @03:46AM (#3942927)
    Remember all that fuss and bother about Y2K? Remember the Unix crowd talking about having a similar problem in 2038 when the epoch rolls over?

    Suddenly it doesn't seem like much of a problem anymore, does it?
  • by skintigh2 ( 456496 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:55PM (#3945897)
    December 1, 2017
    Today in the 17th year of the anti-terror extended presidency, Bush urged everyone on Earth to pray to Jesus to stop the asteroid. He blamed democrats for stopping all efforts to divert destruction but said he had faith everything would be "hunky-dorey."

    A summery of the anti-asteroid efforts are as follows:

    2002: Republicans reject idea that asteroids exist.

    2004: A bill funding more science is rejected as "pork barrel".

    2006: Republicans reject theorey asteroids have ever hit Earth in it's 4000 year history, and therefore never will.

    2008: Republicans admit asteroids may exist, but if one did hit the Earth it wouldn't be that bad.

    2010: Despite mounting evidence that the asteroid will have a direct hit, Bush rejects the science as "shakey and controversial."

    2012: UN resolution on asteroid vetoed by US as being too intrusive.

    2014: Senate plan to stop asteroid rejected by Bush as "too costly." Tax cut for rich is passed.

    2016: Emperor Bush rejects an internation coalition to stop the asteroid as "flawed."
  • by mattr ( 78516 ) <.mattr. .at.> on Thursday July 25, 2002 @07:59AM (#3950378) Homepage Journal
    If you have been following the recent articles about the "Interplanetary Superhighway" discovered by NASA researcher Martin Lo (I have been scouring the net for papers recently) you will realize that there may be a good case for early deflection. In fact NASA re-released the story about this with a little more data just this morning (jpl mailing list). This is hot stuff!

    Lo is trying to map the low energy trajectories through the Solar System which result from calculating n-body gravitational problems for all the objects in the System. Apparently there are tube-like trails between the Sun and the Oort Belt along which objects can travel theoretically without thrust, and the dinosaur killer is thought to have come down an "offramp" to the Earth much like Shoemaker-Levy apparently did with Jupiter.

    This technology was used in the Genesis Mission [] and chaos theory applies to the low-energy halo orbit around a Sun-Earth libration point. After orbitting around this point a few times the robot will (without thrust) return to a sample capture point in Earth orbit.

    While I do not yet understand the math itself, it seems likely that this Rock is in a somewhat chaotic orbit and that small nudges can have very large effects on its trajectory down the way. A decade or two may not be long enough, or we might even set up a pattern which will smash us on a later orbit, but the technology is being developed right now.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser