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NASA Space Science

Small Asteroid To Pass Close To Earth Tomorrow 126

Matt_dk writes "A small asteroid will pass very close to Earth this Tuesday. Astronomers are still tracking the object, now designated as 2010 TD54, and various estimates say it should come within anywhere from 52,000 km (33,000 miles) to 64,000 km (40,000 miles) on October 12, with closest approach at approximately 11:25 UT."
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Small Asteroid To Pass Close To Earth Tomorrow

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  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Monday October 11, 2010 @04:04PM (#33862594) Homepage

    I was kinda alarmed when I read the name "2010 T" which means it was discovered in the first half of October, 2010 (as opposed to discovered in the second half via time travel). And in fact TFA says it was discovered Oct 9.

    TFA also says it's a pretty small asteroid only a few meters across, which is a pretty good excuse for not finding it sooner (and makes it Mostly Harmless), but still... More funding to asteroid finding/tracking pls thx.

  • by ravenspear ( 756059 ) on Monday October 11, 2010 @04:22PM (#33862728)
    It's not worrisome at all. It was not detected until then because it is very small and poses no threat even if it impacts. It's much easier to find larger objects. If an object large enough to cause a global catastrophe was on it's way toward us, we would have way more advance warning than 3 days with these kinds of efforts.
  • Re:close? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Monday October 11, 2010 @04:30PM (#33862804) Homepage Journal
    In a sense, is far, is more than 3 whole earths side to side of distance. No, you will not hear a "zing!" when it passes over.

    In the other hand, was discovered just 2 days ago. If a bigger one coming with a bit more accuracy is discovered now won't be anything that could be done, the plans that are actually to deal with possible impacts implies maybe years,
  • by GrumblyStuff ( 870046 ) on Monday October 11, 2010 @04:48PM (#33863014)

    Heh, yeah, I can see it now.

    "Why does the President want to spend money looking at the sky?! He should be looking at the bottom line!"

    "Is there something he doesn't want us to find on the ground?"

    "Look, the Earth is 75% water and only half of it would be facing bombardment. Add that up and we've got a negative 25% chance to be hit!"

    "Asteroid monitoring? What's the use in that?"
    Cue asteroid strike a la Bobby Jindal and volcano monitoring [].

  • Re:I'm not. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Monday October 11, 2010 @04:49PM (#33863020) Homepage

    Sure if all you care about is yourself.

    Me, I think it's pretty rational to be alarmed by things with the highest probability of killing me or someone I love, or things with a very low probability of killing me, everyone I know and love, and possibly the entire human species.

    In the latter category asteroid impacts would be less alarming than the Cuban Missile Crisis, but I think my level of concern is commensurate with that reality.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday October 11, 2010 @05:20PM (#33863296)

    put one pin on a random lane in a bowling alley. Blindfold yourself at the entrance to the alley, then walk to the lane and bowl the pin down.
    It's kinda like that, only the pin is also moving at 7,000 mph

    And the pin is a critical piece of national infrastructure, that costs $10B to replace, with a multi year lead time... and you don't get to toss one ball, but randomly a couple per month, almost all of which we don't know about until after the ball is thrown... I wouldn't expect failure every time, or even a given time, but its gotta happen sooner or later.

  • Re:Hype? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Monday October 11, 2010 @05:27PM (#33863354) Homepage Journal
    I know you're being sarcastic, but if it did nail a GEO sat, that would make the GEO orbit belt a lot messier and more dangerous...
  • Re:I'm not. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nyeerrmm ( 940927 ) on Monday October 11, 2010 @10:15PM (#33865520)

    Alarmed is certainly an overreaction. However, that doesn't mean it should be ignored -- kind of like terrorism. Plus, unlike terrorism, taking precautions on the NEO threat doesn't interfere with civil rights, and hasn't seen significant overreaction on the part of the general public.

    Detection programs cost tens of millions of dollars, and even a mitigation testbed for a modest sized asteroid is only around $500 million. These kinds of programs have scientific benefit as well (and costs are on par with other space science efforts,) so it has value beyond the NEO threat.

    Additionally, the threat is not just from extinction-class asteroids, but smaller asteroids that can cause regional destruction. These are expected to occur on a much more regular basis (hundred-ish years). If something like Tunguska were to occur over a populated area, the material damage would be far greater than the cost of NEO programs, and that doesn't even include loss of life.

Truth is free, but information costs.