back to article Newly discovered asteroid will not ANNIHILATE THE EARTH

A panic-inducing asteroid, catchily named 2012 DA14, will not obliterate all life on Earth when it swings very close by in early 2013 - BUT it might do the next time it pops round. The European Space Agency said today that although the space rock will miss our planet this time, it won't be by much, which goes to show how …

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  1. David 45

    Bring on Bruce Willis

    All very well being able to spot them but what can we actually DO about them? I'd rather not just sit here and wait for oblivion.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      might

      As well cancel my order for the new iPad

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Stratman

        Re: might

        "might

        As well cancel my order for the new iPad"

        Not a bad idea anyway...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bring on Bruce Willis

      Governments would never let on it was coming, think of the rioting and hysteria, the leaders of nations would go quietly on holiday...... To their bunkers and wait for it to be all over.

      They know when the big one will hit........

    3. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Bring on Bruce Willis

      Bruce Willis? Dude, the thing's 50m. You could knock it out of the sky with a well place SAM. There's no need to land some hotshot team of oil drillers on it with a nuke.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Holmes

        SAM serious sh*t right there

        That must be some mighty SAM.

        I hope it will have at least "TEAM AMERICA" painted on, in the requisite BLUE WHITE RED letters, directly underneath the Lockheed-Martin serial number.

      2. Tom 13
        Coat

        Re: There's no need

        Sure there is: they won't let us build new ones until after we use the ones we have.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But what if

    It happens to encounter an as yet undiscovered mini black hole in the outer Solar System, which has enough of a gravitational influence to nudge 2012 DA14 onto a collision course?

    Don't laugh too hard, the "Wow!" signal might have been caused by encountering the jet from said MBH which neatly explains the point source effect and the non repeatability.

    -AC/DC

  3. Beachrider

    It can't be easy...

    The ongoing anxiety level sounds problematic. It can't be easy living your life expecting to be hit by a NEO objects. Perhaps a visit to the pub could help...

    1. Arctic fox
      Happy

      Re: It can't be easy... "Perhaps a visit to the pub could help..."

      Then after several pints of full strength old goat botherer he'll feel as if he has actually been hit by an NEO.

  4. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Always have an extra lunch-out earlier in the week...

    Like on Tuesdays (as well as Fridays). Just in case we don't make it until Friday.

    No need to risk it.

    You don't want to be standing there on a Wednesday morning, looking up as the Doomsday Asteroid streaks across the sky, thinking to yourself that you're going to miss hamburgers, salty chips, and dark beer.

  5. jai

    three weeks?

    three weeks warning doesn't sound like much good

    what will they do with three weeks? is that enough time to mount a way to blast the rock out the sky? is it even enough time to find out where its going to hit and arrange for evacuation of the impact site?

    where's the OMGWEREALLGONNADIE icon?

  6. arrbee
    Alien

    whoosh

    Just wanted to point out that the distances quoted are from the centre of the earth, not the surface. Important to know when working out how low to duck.

    You could also measure the closeness of the encounter in terms of time if anyone has the closing speed to hand.

  7. All names Taken

    Aha! So the funding cheque has arrived?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could it do us all a really big favour

    and land at 31°47′N 35°13′E?

    Failing that, 29°45′46″N 95°22′59″W might also be popular.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Could it do us all a really big favour

      21°25′21.15″N 39°49′34.1″E is a much better target

      1. James Micallef Silver badge
        Flame

        @AC1 and AC2 - Could you two do all of us a really big favour

        and take your antisemitism / islamophobia somewhere else

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: James Micallef

          So you are quite happy with the anti USA sentiment from the first AC then.

  9. C. P. Cosgrove
    Happy

    Weird orbit

    Are there any theories about how this got into an orbit that appears to be nearly perpendicular to the ecliptic ?

    Chris Cosgrove

    1. Blue eyed boy
      Boffin

      Re: Weird orbit

      Probably a close pass of one of Earth's poles in the dim and distant past (or maybe last year). The Ulysses spacecraft did similar by design some years ago - it started off by bouncing around the inner planets, then they sent it out to Jupiter with instructions to do a close flyby of the north pole, which sent it out on a perpendicular - and highly elliptical - orbit back towards the Sun's south pole, the actual objective.

  10. Archimedes_Circle
    Alien

    Eh, so anyone try to figure out whose satellites it's going to smack into? It's 16,000 miles out from the center of the earth. I declare Mardi Gras all week just in case it hits something important, like a black budget viral storage lab that lands earth side a la Andromeda Strain.

  11. Dani Eder
    Mushroom

    A wll placed SAM?

    @sisk - well, no, for two reasons:

    * Surface to air missiles fall short by thousands of times in reaching that altitude. A stripped down ballistic missile, or a satellite launcher could get there.

    * A 50 meter sphere has a volume of 65,000 cubic meters. Depending on what it is made of, then that asteroid has a mass of 65 to 260 kilotons (1 to 4 large aircraft carriers). A SAM will not do much to it.

    The only practical thing to do if you have a few weeks notice is lob a nuclear bomb or three (for redundancy) at it, and try to deflect it sideways. It will almost certainly fragment if you do that, but that does not matter if the fragments miss the Earth. If you have longer lead times (years) you can look at less violent methods of pushing it out of the way.

    1. The Axe

      Re: A wll placed SAM?

      Even if it is fragmented by a bomb, the smaller pieces are more likely to burn up in the atmosphere than a single 50m piece. Ok some pieces might reach earth but they will cause a lot less damage in total than a single 50m piece.

      1. James Micallef Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: A wll placed SAM?

        Would a 50m asteroid make it to the surface at all? How big does an asteroid have to be do not burn up in the atmosphere? Inquiring minds want to know

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Alan Firminger

      Fingers crossed

      We will know the mass, and so the density, after the fly by.

    4. Tom 13

      Re: A wll placed SAM?

      No, actually you want to use conventional explosives to change the orbit. We know from past experiences that detonating a nuke in orbit is bad for current civilization. What is needed is reconfiguring the ICBMs to carry conventional payloads and launch them in a well calibrated series designed to keep nudging the orbit while keeping it whole. If it break up, you have more pieces to track. Yes they'll all do less damage, but you need to be sure the most damage any of them will do is still on par with taking out a house, not a large city. Tracking one is hard enough, the chaos from a break-up makes the fragments impossible.

      Yes, this solution ignores the political problems of nation states peacefully launching a series of ICBMs into space, but it's the only physics solution available.

  12. FredScummer
    Alien

    Never Mind Bruce Willis

    I'll go for Will Smith if you don't mind. Bruce's problem was suggesting that you could fly a space shuttle like an aircraft to go round the moon - and everyone knows that ain't possible.

    Whereas Will Smith had this alien craft hidden in Area 51, and we know they've got one of those.

  13. TeeCee Gold badge
    Alien

    "...its relatively small size - 50m..."

    Even if it were to collide it's going to have difficulty in annihilating the earth, unless they're not telling us something and the something they're not telling us is that it's actually an alien Total Conversion bomb.

    Global killers are kilometers across, not meters.

    Might make a nasty hole somewhere though, assuming it's solid enough to stay in one piece on the way in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "...its relatively small size - 50m..."

      I'm not a scientist, but you might want to take a look at this page, dealing with a well-known example of the effect of a meteor (in the broadest sense of the term), believed to be roundabout the size of the one in question here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunguska_event

      Obviously, a lot depends on the composition of this particular rock, but judging by the article, if a 50m-ish meteor exploded (air-burst) 6-8 miles above a major populated area, it would probably make a bit more than a "nasty hole"...

      Let's just say I wouldn't want to be within a thousand miles of that!

  14. Ian Stephenson Silver badge
    Coat

    Research opportunity?

    Now is the time for some uber-boffin to work out some way to slow the rock enough that it can be trapped in orbit.

    Then we can start mining it.

    Hopefully it's full of rare earths - we don't really need another 260kT of iron oxide.

    Once we've done it once and if it's viable we can work out how to get rok's from the asteroid belt back here.

    Mine's the one with "Earth first - we can strip mine the rest of Solar System later" across the back.

    1. Yesnomaybe

      Re: Research opportunity?

      Might take some serious horsepower to change the orbit by much, but if it was possible, it would be pretty cool. How heavy does a space elevator counterweight have to be?

  15. Grease Monkey

    When will they learn? Just because they say it isn't going to hit us doesn't mean the tin foil hat brigade won't start shouting that it will.

    What I love about those loonies is the way they just sort of reboot every time they turn out to be wrong and behave as if nothing happened at all. For example I live near one of these guys and he used to tell everybody that the world was going to come to an end when the LHC was switched on. I bumped into him when the LHC had been running for a few weeks and asked him why the world hadn't come to an end. "THEY realised we were right so they never switched it on. But they'd never admit we were right so they're just pretending it's working and making up press releases."

    That was presumably the same THEY who "got to" me when I told him his christmas day UFO was actually me and my son night flying the RC heli we got for christmas.

  16. thalass

    Sounds like a good candidate for capture, to me. Though the orbit is inclined quite a bit, so it might have too much velocity to alter. I'm not sure. Obviously less than a year is not nearly enough notice to set up such a mission. Hopefully it doesn't collide next time - that'll give us plenty of time to work it out.

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