Blast it or paint it: Asteroid to threaten Earth in 2013
Published: 03 March, 2012, 22:32
Edited: 05 March, 2012, 03:33
A dangerous asteroid heading to the Earth was spotted by stargazers three years after it had got onto its current orbitTAGS:Space
To avert a possible catastrophe – this time set for February 2013 – scientists suggest confronting asteroid 2012 DA14 with either paint or big guns. The stickler is that time has long run out to build a spaceship to carry out the operation.
NASA's data shows the 60-meter asteroid, spotted by Spanish stargazers in February, will whistle by Earth in 11 months. Its trajectory will bring it within a hair’s breadth of our planet, raising fears of a possible collision.
The asteroid, known as DA14, will pass by our planet in February 2013 at a distance of under 27,000 km (16,700 miles). This is closer than the geosynchronous orbit of some satellites.
There is a possibility the asteroid will collide with Earth, but further calculation is required to estimate the potential threat and work out how to avert possible disaster, NASA expert Dr. David Dunham told students
at Moscow’s University of Electronics and Mathematics (MIEM).“The Earth’s gravitational field will alter the asteroid’s path significantly. Further scrupulous calculation is required to estimate the threat of collision,”
said Dr. Dunham, as transcribed by Russia’s Izvestia. “The asteroid may break into dozens of small pieces, or several large lumps may split from it and burn up in the atmosphere. The type of the asteroid and its mineral structure can be determined by spectral analysis. This will help predict its behavior in the atmosphere and what should be done to prevent the potential threat,”
said Dr. Dunham.
In the event of a collision, scientists have calculated that the energy released would equate to the destructive power
of a thermo-nuclear bomb.
In response to the threat, scientists have come up with some ingenious methods to avert a potential disaster.Fireworks and watercolors
With the asteroid zooming that low, it will be too late to do anything with it besides trying to predict its final destination and the consequences of impact.
A spaceship is needed, experts agree. It could shoot the rock down or just crash into it, either breaking the asteroid into debris or throwing it off course
“We could paint it
,” says NASA expert David Dunham.
Paint would affect the asteroid’s ability to reflect sunlight, changing its temperature and altering its spin. The asteroid would stalk off its current course, but this could also make the boulder even more dangerous when it comes back in 2056, Aleksandr Devaytkin, the head of the observatory in Russia’s Pulkovo, told Izvestia.
2012 DA14 orbit diagramSpaceship impossible?
Whatever the mission, building a spaceship to deal with 2012 DA14
will take two years – at least.
The asteroid has proven a bitter discovery. It has been circling in orbit for three years already, crossing Earth’s path several times, says space analyst Sergey Naroenkov from the Russian Academy of Sciences. It seems that spotting danger from outer space is still the area where mere chance reigns, while asteroid defense systems exist only in drafts.
Still, prospects of meeting 2012 DA14 are not all doom and gloom.
“The asteroid may split into pieces entering the atmosphere. In this case, most part of it will never reach the planet’s surface,
” remarks Dunham.
But if the entire asteroid is to crash into the planet, the impact will be as hard as in the Tunguska blast, which in 1908 knocked down trees over a total area of 2,150 sq km (830 sq miles) in Siberia. This is almost the size of Luxembourg. In today’s case, the destination of the asteroid is yet to be determined.llCharles Austin Miller
March 05, 2012, 05:57
Look, try to keep this in perspective... The DA14 asteroid is only 60 meters wide (about 150 feet). An asteroid only 150 feet in its maximum dimension is less than 1/3 the size of the Canyon Diablo Meteor (which created Meteor Crater in Winslow, Arizona, about 50,000 years ago). The Canyon Diablo Meteor is estimated to have been about 500 feet in diameter, and the crater (as it appears today) is only about a mile in diameter.
Yeah, if DA14 strikes Earth next February, it'll release about as much energy as a low-yield thermonuclear weapon, which will be quite noticeable if it impacts any land mass. However, the Earth's surface is over 70% WATER, which means the asteroid has less than a 30% chance of impacting dry land.
I've got news for you, folks, and NASA can back this up, as can NORAD: The Earth's oceans have received more than a couple of meteors of this size before, and within the last hundred years. NORAD has to be on constant vigil for these meteoric visitors, so we don't mistake them for actual nuclear detonations and launch a counterstrike on somebody.
Did you get that? Earth gets hit by these asteroids fairly REGULARLY, and they fizzle into the oceans without much fanfare. No worldwide apocalypse, no nuclear winter, not even a respectable tsunami results from these impacts.
Now, if a 150 foot meteor managed to impact a populated land mass, it might take out a very small town or do a lot of damage in a major city. It would be pretty sensational news, but it wouldn't be any worse than the damage caused by an F5 tornado, okay? Sure, an F5 tornado is pretty frightening to contemplate, but only in a very limited and localized sense, and it would never threaten humanity's existence.
It's when asteroids reach several MILES in size that they cause global disturbances. And, just for the record, the notion that a 6-mile meteor exterminated the dinosaurs is just a sensational THEORY. There's no hard evidence that an asteroid killed the dinosaurs but inexplicably didn't exterminate the much more fragile amphibians. It's a more likely theory that communicable DISEASE killed off the dinosaurs, not some Hollywood horror such as an asteroid.http://rt.com/news/paint-asteroid-earth-nasa-767/ http://www.themistsofavalon.net/t2706-the-secret-of-humanity#70824