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Close Approach By Asteroid 2012 BX34 55

An anonymous reader writes with news that asteroid 2012 BX34, 11 meters wide, is in the process of passing within 60,000km of Earth — about a fifth of the distance between the Earth and the Moon. At that size, the asteroid would pose no danger even if it hit the Earth's atmosphere.
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Close Approach By Asteroid 2012 BX34

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Mayans were right!!!!
  • Hope people have some sanity, but with the shape of the world today, I have my doubts.

    If that's a rocky asteroid, as opposed to mostly frozen gasses, I expect it could still present a sizeable dent. Lots of old craters on this world, just covered up mostly by erosion, plant life, etc.

    • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @11:58AM (#38840037)

      nope, stony asteroid has to be about 35 meters or more in diameter to "make a dent", otherwise it will just burn up in atmosphere.

      • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @12:03PM (#38840099)

        also of interest, a 10 meter metal (e.g. iron-nickel) asteroid will have big fragments that will hit the ground, for example the one that hit Sikhote-Alin mountains in Siberia in February 1947, 150 tons of fragments hit the ground and one of them weighed 1.7 tons!

      • "A stony meteoroid of about 10 metres (30 ft) in diameter can produce an explosion of around 20 kilotons". (air-burst) I guess it depends on the angle of attack and altitude at burst. (from Wiki) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunguska_event [wikipedia.org]
        • quite true, and of course greatly depends on velocity too. The size numbers are for the large part of the bell curve.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          This is why you shouldn't read wikipedia. It can be misleading. The meteoroid has the kinetic energy of that. This energy may be transferred as an airburst high in the sky. If done close enough to the ground (as you hinted), the shockwave may do damage, and the collective residual portions of the meteoroid may do damage, but I highly doubt it'll do 20 kilotons of damage to anything near the surface area.

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          And that explains why I dislike tnt comparisons.

          Yes total energy would be equvilient...but energy is lost entering the atmosphere, the break up so not you have several smaller "tnt piles".

          Of course the event you link to was cause by a comet, so not really the same thing.

          • by treeves ( 963993 )

            "...energy is lost entering the atmosphere..."
            Oh great, so it could contribute to global warming.

    • by oPless ( 63249 )

      What would be its (relative) velocity if it did hit the atmosphere?

      Sure there's the idea of mass in posts (iron vs rock) but not velocity!

      At sufficiently high velocities it doesn't really matter what a projectile is composed of.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        Yes, yes it does.

        Is it the type of material that would cause an air burst? is the material the type the will break a part? How much matter will it kick up?

        I would rather have a baseball traveling the speed of light* hit us rather then a 1000 ton pieces of stone impacting the earth at 55,000 km per hour.

        The first one might destroy a city, the with one would cause mass extinctions, and ruin all civilization.

        *I know it cant, just an example that mass and material type matter.

        • 1000 tons isn't really all that much. Certainly not a civilization ending event... more likely just an interesting item for the evening news. You would need something on the order of kilometers in diameter to end civilization as we know it. Also, an object with the rest mass of a baseball and traveling at very near the speed of light probably wouldn't be able to physically destroy a city as it would tend to explode into a burst of high energy particles upon impact with the atmosphere. It seems plausibl
        • I would rather have a baseball traveling the speed of light hit us rather then a 1000 ton pieces of stone impacting the earth at 55,000 km per hour.

          Are you sure?

          The "big rock hitting us pretty fast" case is a kinetic energy content of 1.167 x 10^14 Joules [wolframalpha.com], or about 28 kilotons equivalent yield. [wolframalpha.com]

          OTOH, that wee little 145 gram baseball at .999c is 6.5 x 10^15 Joules [wolframalpha.com], or 1.55 megatons yield equivalent [wolframalpha.com]*.

          Both of those are city-killers, I suppose, but the baseball will kill a bigger city deader.

          Neither is a din

          • by oPless ( 63249 )

            *Actually, that "baseball at the speed of light" is classical kinetic energy. Using the relativistic kinetic energy equation, which seems appropriate at .999c, the answer turns out to be 2.78 x 10^17 Joules, [wolframalpha.com], or about 66 1/2 megatons. [wolframalpha.com] Which is a bit more than the biggest weapon we've ever used in any setting. Still not a dinosaur-killer, but damned unpleasant to be anywhere near I'd bet.

            Finally someone gets my point.

  • Talk about waiting till the last minute.

  • by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @12:06PM (#38840141) Journal

    The asteroid was discovered two days ago on the 25th, and its closest approach occurs today. Not much time there to get the shuttle back from the Smithsonian, haul it down to Florida, refit it with all the stuff they took out, and launch Bruce Willis to destroy the asteroid. Good thing it's not a larger asteroid on an actual collision course. (Yeah, I know, the shuttle isn't actually at the Smithsonian yet)

    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      Larger asteroids are also easier to detect.

    • by Zoxed ( 676559 )

      > and launch Bruce Willis to destroy the asteroid

      Can we not launch him on a oneway trip anyway ? (just to be sure :-)

  • Let's go to the basement! Whoops, we already are :).
  • It is common (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Torg ( 59213 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @12:51PM (#38840759)

    The issue is we can only tell when one is about a day out. Many times we can only see them as they are leaving, not aproaching. It is actually a fairly common occorance. You can see them at http://www.spaceweather.com/ [spaceweather.com]. Since the begniing of the year there have been 5 that have come close enough to actually be of note.

  • At that size, the asteroid would pose no danger even if it hit the Earth's atmosphere

    A nonsensical statement. That just depends on its trajectory.

  • Seriously, we need to find a small asteroid that comes into orbit and land a small automated craft on it. This would give us practice for doing the real thing with ppl. In addition, if we find a large enough asteroid in our orbit, lets land ppl on it. We had one earlier that was ideal for doing it.

All Finagle Laws may be bypassed by learning the simple art of doing without thinking.