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Earth Space Science

1-in-1,000 Chance of Asteroid Impact In ... 2182? 326

astroengine writes "Sure, we're looking 172 years into the future, but an international collaboration of scientists have developed two mathematical models to help predict when a potentially hazardous asteroid (or PHA) may hit us, not in this century, but the next. The rationale is that to stand any hope in deflecting a civilization-ending or extinction-level impact, we need as much time as possible to deal with the threatening space rock. (Asteroid deflection can be a time-consuming venture, after all.) Enter '(101955) 1999 RQ36' — an Apollo class, Earth-crossing, 500 meter-wide space rock. The prediction is that 1999 RQ36 has a 1-in-1,000 chance of hitting us in the future, and according to one of the study's scientists, María Eugenia Sansaturio, half of those odds fall squarely on the year 2182."
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1-in-1,000 Chance of Asteroid Impact In ... 2182?

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  • 172 years ago (Score:2, Informative)

    by blai ( 1380673 ) on Friday July 30, 2010 @02:09AM (#33079980)
    Nobody cared about global warming and burnt any kind of coal they found.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 30, 2010 @02:27AM (#33080034)

    or more precisely 0.00054 = 1 in 1852 according to TFA.

    Call this 1-in-1000 only if you can't do math.

  • by Cylix ( 55374 ) * on Friday July 30, 2010 @02:33AM (#33080068) Homepage Journal

    So you are saying I shouldn't worry about it then.

    I was going to see what I could do to help man kind, but you convinced me it would be a meaningless gesture.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 30, 2010 @02:46AM (#33080112)

    Not only you. The whole human species would be extinct by then. We have global warming, pollution, fuel shortage, wars, corruption. These are enough to finish us by 2100.

    Humans have been doing that for a lot longer then the 90 years to 2010, more -1 Pessimist then +1 Insightful.

  • by h7 ( 1855514 ) on Friday July 30, 2010 @02:49AM (#33080120)

    More like 72 years. NASA says that they would need to start actual diversion operations 100 years in advance, which leaves 72 years to figure it out.

  • by h7 ( 1855514 ) on Friday July 30, 2010 @02:58AM (#33080144)

    Actually there are many objects we are monitoring, please see [].
    This object's impact probability is 7.1*10E-4. That's 0.00071, and not 1/1000.
    The Torino Scale Color says white, which means impact is almost impossible.
    Most of the times even if the probability is increased, it is quickly reduced after some investigation.
    Currently the most dangerous object is 2007 VK184 (2048-2057) which gets green rating. This article is nothing more than sensationalist and stupid.

  • Can't do it (Score:5, Informative)

    by mbone ( 558574 ) on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:02AM (#33080372)

    We cannot predict the course of asteroids over 200 years to within an Earth diameter. I have worked on this area, and the masses and positions of bodies (particularly all of the other asteroids) are simply not well enough known. So, it will come near the Earth, but we won't know if it is a true threat for at least a century.


  • by Kentari ( 1265084 ) on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:11AM (#33080396) Homepage

    But it has no torino scale entry because the torino scale is only defined for impacts in the next 100 years. Hence it is listed as n/a.

    And the impact probability you cited is the cumulative probability of 8 events. There is only a probability of 5.4E-04 (1/1850) of an impact in 2182.

    I don't quite get the publicity at the moment. It has been at that level for quite a while and is still at a much lower level than (99942) Apophis was (which hit 1% chance). In all likelihood new data will rule out an impact.

  • by SirRedTooth ( 1785808 ) on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:23AM (#33080442)

    Not only you. The whole human species would be extinct by then. We have global warming, pollution, fuel shortage, wars, corruption. These are enough to finish us by 2100. What happens in 2182 is irrelevant.

    Not really. The human race started off as a primitive ape like species. We managed to survive living in jungles, deserts and caves. How is "global warming, pollution, fuel shortage, wars, corruption" going to kill ~7bn people. Sure it might kill 3 billion or even 4 billion at the very worst (which is still unlikely) But there is no way any of the things you mentioned will kill every single human being.

  • Re:1 in 1000? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kentari ( 1265084 ) on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:43AM (#33080510) Homepage

    The odds are based on the accuracy of the orbit of the asteroid. Every observation has an error and the orbit can be any orbit that fits in these errors. The errors in the future positions of the asteroid increase exponentially and it is not that exceptional that they can predict this event. Another impact candidate is 1950 DA, which has a 1/300 chance of hitting Earth on March 16, 2880.

    The come up with these odds by running tons of simulations taking into account the gravity of the Sun, all planets and some of the larger asteroids. This gives a set of possible paths of the asteroid through the Solar System in the future. The odds of the impact are then the number of possible orbits intersecting the surface of the Earth (including the lower atmosphere) divided by the total number of orbits. This is not magic nor arbitrary, but applied physics.

    C3-PO's odds would probably be based on the number of ships ever entering an asteroid field and coming out again. In the real world, flying through our asteroid belt isn't that tricky. Current estimates put the odds of a probe traversing the asteroid belt and accidentally hitting something at around 1 in a billion.

  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Friday July 30, 2010 @08:29AM (#33081268) Homepage

    Freezing is not the problem, thawing is. Also, do these cryoprotectants work on cell level so the walls aren't punctured by ice crystals?

    Yes, they do. This problem was solved for in the late 90s by using much more advance cryoprotectants which allow the body to vitrify at low temperatures rather than freeze. This has been true for about a decade now. Indeed, they've now successfully brought rabbit kidneys down to liquid nitrogen temperatures and brought back up, transplanted them, and had the kidneys function. See [] which includes discussion of this and other research (including direct examination of vitrified rat brains which show the cellular and synaptic structure largely intact.)

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