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With the Furies Breathing Down Your Neck

A meteor heading towards earth.NASA is indicating that the asteroid 99942 Apophis, which had previously been deemed to not be an impact risk, might pose a bigger risk than originally thought:

It turns out that there are a few things we still don’t know about the orbit of Apophis, which could change its projected course by millions of miles, according to an article yesterday in New Scientist. Are we going to get slammed by the 270-meter long hunk of rock? We probably won’t know for sure until we get a closer look at its close-ish Earth flyby in 2013.

There’s no need to panic just yet, but this frustrating lack of information does provide more evidence that we really do need to steer some more funding and work into the asteroid detection/deflection area.

Image credit: Wong Family Pictures photostream

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About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp writes about pretty much everything under the sun, including politics, art, religion, philosophy, sports, music, culture, and science.

Comments

  1. Michael says:

    There’s no need to panic just yet, but this frustrating lack of information does provide more evidence that we really do need to steer some more funding and work into the asteroid detection/deflection area.

    Of steer more funding and work into getting some of our eggs out of this one basket.

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  2. Wizbang says:

    A million miles here, a million miles there…

    We are all doomed…..maybe in 2036. Since Apophis was discovered in 2004, asteroid-watchers have known that it has a slim chance of hitting Earth in 2036. At 270 metres wide,……

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  3. od says:

    Of steer more funding and work into getting some of our eggs out of this one basket.

    That too.

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  4. grampagravy says:

    Ah, the irony..Chicken Little finally vindicated.

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  5. Patrick T McGuire says:

    …a closer look at its close-ish Earth flyby in 2013.

    Hmmmm… the Mayan calendar ends in 2012. The Bible talks of the end of days being a time when the stars will fall from the skies.

    I wonder if there is a coincidence here.

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  6. William d'Inger says:

    I know, from reading Astronomy magazines, that we have a detection program, but do we have any sort of deflection plan? The only ones I know are in the science fiction category.

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  7. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I wonder if the heat generated by a 5 megaton thermonuclear blast would melt a rock that size. When they detonated Mike, it left a big hole in the Pacific ocean.

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  8. Duck! says:

    Apophis? Maybe we need to call these guys.

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  9. DL says:

    Just wondering – is it safe now to avoid filing my income tax yet?

    I’d rather see the money and scientific efforts directed at this than the GW baloney the politicians are chasing wouth our livelyhood.

    Jerry (moonbeam) Brown could play the role of Al Gore on this one and win himself a Nobel for sure.

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  10. Michael says:

    Hmmmm… the Mayan calendar ends in 2012. The Bible talks of the end of days being a time when the stars will fall from the skies.

    I wonder if there is a coincidence here.

    Impact would be in 2036, not 2013. There will be a fly-by in 2013, but no danger of impact.

    I know, from reading Astronomy magazines, that we have a detection program, but do we have any sort of deflection plan? The only ones I know are in the science fiction category.

    There’s plenty of “plans” on paper, but no testing and no actual programs. The problem is that there are different kinds of asteroids, and what will deflect one will have no effect (or worse) on another.

    I wonder if the heat generated by a 5 megaton thermonuclear blast would melt a rock that size.

    Again, it depends on the kind of asteroid, but a single nuclear blast probably wouldn’t be enough to destroy it. However, destruction isn’t necessary, and it’s many orders of magnitude easier to just change it’s orbit slightly.

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