Astronomers following the so-called doomsday asteroid Apophis, which will be whizzing past Earth on Thursday morning, have found the rock is much larger than had previously been assumed. Since the asteroid could hit Earth in 2036, that's a problem. The asteroid, named after an Egyptian god of chaos, darkness and destruction, …
If something that size hits the pacific then we pretty much are. It'll do a damn site more than "sandblast" the west coast of the US , the debris will wipe out the entire continent and will fuck up the world climate for decades. Certainly long enough to make sure there are worldwide crop failures and billions starving to death.
"It's not big enough."
You might want to check out what a purported 100 metre wide comet did to Tunguska. That was a 3rd the diamater and probably half the density so had about 1/50th the mass (using 4/3 * pi * r^3) of this asteroid yet it still produced a blast equivalent of 15 megatons. I don't know about you but potential 750 megaton blast sounds pretty bad news to me.
All the Tunguska blast did was knock over some trees and make a couple of pretty sunsets.
Yes, this impact would cause tidal waves and (bearing in mind the sensitive geological situation of west coast USA) probably earthquakes but it would be on a par with a big natural disaster, like a volcano erupting (bigger than Krakatoa but a long way off the sort of 'supervolcano' scenarios that would result in having to sacrifice Bruce Willis), so:
It's not big enough.
"All the Tunguska blast did was knock over some trees and make a couple of pretty sunsets."
It flattened 80 million trees down over an area covering 2,150 square kilometres (830 sq mi).
Something 10 times the size, impacting the Earth, rather than an airburst like the tunguska bolide, would certainly cause continental-level disaster, and would screw up the climate for a fair while.
> I don't know about you but potential 750 megaton blast sounds pretty bad news to me.
Not a planet killer though. The 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami was equivalent to 9320 gigatons of TNT or about 600 million times the energy of the Hiroshima bomb. Makes Apophis look like a firecracker.
Bullcrap breaking windows in Norway and Finland means a few other neighbors noticed. And you can be sure there is a decent chance the US took almost as good a pictures as the Russians did of it. I know Russian observer ships had a habit of showing up at almost all US tests including right under the space shots.
Not only a lot bigger than 10x the size, but hit in just the wrong place (shallow sea underlain by a lot of limestone) at just the wrong time (after a long period of heavy vulcanism had put paid to a lot of the large wildlife anyway)
land hits = bad
ocean hits = very bad
shallow sea hits = very very bad.
Apophis hitting would make a big mess and disrupt things badly, but it's not a civilisation-ender (unless the civilisation in question is directly under the strike zone), let alone a planet killer.
".....land hits = bad
ocean hits = very bad
shallow sea hits = very very bad...."
Has anyone looked at the chances of it hitting the Moon and playing a bit of inter-planetary billiards? A collison with the Moon could lead to much bigger problems for the Earth than a direct hit by Apophis alone.
"...... It'll do a damn site more than "sandblast" the west coast of the US , the debris will wipe out the entire continent and will fuck up the world climate for decades......" Cool, could you just repeat that a bit louder as I have a few spots left to sell in my bunker complex.....
I'm a bit worried by this news. Bruce is going to be (say it quietly) really old by the time this monster comes to wreak Michael Bay style havoc on Hollywood.
So shouldn't we pop him in the freezer to keep him fresh for the inevitable (and entirely logical) drill-a-hole-an-bung-in-a-nuke shuttle mission that will save mankind to the sound of Aerosmith? A quick spell alongside the oven chips will also have the beneficial side effect of stopping him making movies.
You forgot the 15-blades razor!
One blade shaves you close!
The second shaves you closer still!
The third blade shaves you even closer!
The fourth blade makes sure the previous three were on the job.
The fifth blade shaves you even closer!
The sixth blade slices skin.
The seventh blade strips your flesh into ribbons.
The eighth blade flenses the flesh from your bones.
The ninth blade cleans your bones.
The tenth blade smooths and polishes your bones leaving you just a grinning skull.
The next five blades are just there because we love blades.
> Aren't you confusing Lucifer's Hammer with Inconstant Moon? It's the latter that features hot fudge sundaes.
Nope, you're wrong. Inconstant Moon is a novella about the Sun barfing at us and frying half the planet.
Lucifer's Hammer is about a comet that hits us and in the early part there's a scene where people are discussing the consistency of comets.
Does it? Ah. Well it's probably both then :)
For the record: Sundae on a Tuesdae.
'Scientists are drawn in for help on the network documentaries, and this leads to some black-comedic dialogue as some Jet Propulsion Laboratory people try to explain the possible effects of a collision:
"When the mass is above a certain size, it stops being important whether Earth has an atmosphere or not."
"Except to us," Forrester said, deadpan.
Sharps paused a second, then laughed ... "What we need is a good analogy. Um ..." Sharps' brow furrowed.
"Hot fudge sundae," said Forrester.
Forrester's grin was wide through his beard. "A cubic mile of hot fudge sundae. Cometary speeds."''
Too soon to tell what it will do. So many things will affect this thing between now and then, the probable location (Hell, the date!) will change.I'm sure with events happening all over the world the way they are, it's the least of our worries til then. When it swings back this way in 2036, we may be eager for it to strike! I can almost garantee that it will strike this planet the exact day I retire, and probably a chunk of it will strike me as I walk out the door for the last time.
OK, so Apophis has an estimated mass of approximately 27 e9 kg, and its mean orbital speed is about 30 km/s.
Bruce Willis is quite a big guy, has an estimated mass of about 95 kg. Let's call it a nice round 100 kg for ease of calculations.
If we could somehow accelerate him to 0.1 of the speed of light, then ignoring relativistic effects, he'd hit Apophis with a kinetic energy of 45 petajoules. For comparison, that's about the energy of a 1 MT nuclear bomb. If we timed him to hit Apophis at the point where it had just passed Earth and was heading back out into space, he would speed it up by a paltry 11 cm per second.
The good news is that if Apophis were in geostationary orbit at the time, he would be enough to knock it out of Earth orbit completely. The bad news is, it wouldn't be enough to knock it out of the Earth's orbital path round the sun, and thus prevent it from threatening us again.
Could we use him to knock Apophis into a different orbital plane, thus ensuring that it would only cross our path once every several thousand years? Ah, I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.
"Could we use him to knock Apophis into a different orbital plane, thus ensuring that it would only cross our path once every several thousand years?"
Yes, but he'd have to hit Apophis from above/below the current orbital plane, which means we need to accelerate him two times: the first to move Bruce above/below the current plane (this can be a smallish acceleration), the second for the big hit to knock Apophis into a different orbital plane. TBH once we have the tech for the second acceleration then the first should be fairly trivial.
All in all it would be a moving experience.
When a scientist says the radius of the asteroid is 270 m give or take 60 m,
it means that the most likely radius is 270 m from the measurements,
and that there is about 30% chance it is larger than 330 m or smaller than 210 m.
Another way of saying this is that the revised best estimate of 325 m is within one standard deviation,
so the original estimate was basically RIGHT ON as measurements go.
So you are saying that this space rock has a good chance of destroying both Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi at the same time ? And wipes out most everyone who voted for them ? C'mon asteroid, hurry up. I can't wait to celebate their demise with a good Wyoming beach party. We don't need CA's lousy wine anyway - good riddance to a state that cannot stop spending what it doesn't have.
"Science Fail" should be your handle.
The motion of objects moving through space is understood with a great deal of accuracy, this is why they can predict how close Apophis will be this time around, and exactly when that will be; your comment about weather forecasting is a poor comparison.
I’ll be 81 years old and assuming I’m still alive, will have fathered 2 children, divorced once and loved a few more times, hopefully watched my daughter become a very successful businesswoman (she’s half way there already) and seen my son fulfil his dream of directing a film. I’ll have seen some of the most beautiful places on Earth (Angkor Wat, the Pyramids and standing at the foot of Everest looking up) seen the football team I support play at Wembley 3 times (won 1 lost 2) along with having eaten and drunk much more than is good for me in my life. So I reckon I’ll be more than happy to face the impending doom of an asteroid crashing into the planet.(skips off singing "its the end of the world as we know it but I feel fine")
Imagine how boring the news would be if copy writers were required to be honest and not use sensational headlines. Imagine what the world would be like if people weren't idiots and needed sensationalist headlines...
"An asteroid with a known trajectory that poses no threat of impact with Earth is found to be 20% larger than first thought."
"Are we going to stop giving hurricanes names like Sandy and start calling them things like "Mighty Wind of Doom"?"
Yes, it's already happened.
In the UK, we have already replaced the word "Winter" with "Beast From The East".
I believe there's one coming now. Run for the hills! (Or just put a coat on)
Would like that stone Apofiz to pass right through that "gravitational keyhole". That would clearly focus the minds of enough people to cause a few stupid but influential governments around the world to finally do something interesting.
Like starting a few megaprojects to build a) a big plasma or laser anti-asteroid cannon on the Moon, b) a fleet of big nuke and rail-gun carrying space battleships, c) spaceports and space stations infrastructure to support all that, c) a moonbase (for manning the cannon), d) a marsbase (to build bunkers for escaping billionaires and politicians) and e) plenty of other wonderful things.
All of that will also come in handy to fend off the inevitable aliens attack when it comes (because with 17 billion potentially habitable planets in just this one galaxy it's a question of when rather than if) - and most importantly it's the only viable long term solution to the economic crisis the West is currently in.
Given that the likely responses of America, Russia and anyone else with a lot of plutonium knocking about will be to dust off the plans for Project Orion and proceed to build one or more in ever so much of a hurry, I for one would really rather they didn't bother. A partial mass extinction from a relatively clean asteroid hit is one thing, but the fall-out from several ground-launched spacecraft propelled by letting off H-bombs behind them is not a nice prospect.
Much better to concentrate our efforts now on making super-strong carbon nanotubes, to build a ground to geostationary beanstalk. Once that is done, getting a kilo of anything from ground to orbit goes from £10 000 down to £100. At this point, we can start thinking about simply sending over something with an ion drive to nudge the asteroid off its collision course, and do all this without polluting the biosphere with more radioactivity.
quote: "Much better to concentrate our efforts now on making super-strong carbon nanotubes, to build a ground to geostationary beanstalk."
Put a giant carbon-nanotube catchers mitt on the end of the space elevator and it could be directly funded by the anti-asteroid panic money too :D
Sounds like win-win to me...
What would it take to tag and bag this thing in 2029, or at least fiddle with it enough that the subsequent approach places it in a relatively harmless orbit? Delta V would be huge 2029 for sure but it may be worth exploring what force would need to be applied to not leave the next pass to chance, as well as secure it for future use.
Lots of grumbling about the cost of sending meat bags to asteroids, would be a bit silly to pass up an opportunity to grab a juicy one when it comes so close. Exploring an asteroid in NEO would be significantly simpler.
Is this thing big enough to act as an anchor for a nanotube tether?
Off on a bit of a tangent, some years ago I was involved in running an ARG (alternate reality game, think their know as chaotic fiction these days...). The basis of the story? Captured asteroid (we decided on Toutatis in the end) moved into geostationary orbit and used as both the tether for a space elevator and an orbiting habitat.
Was hard work, but a hell of a lot of fun. Happy days...
"After checking the data and weeding out the false reports, Apophis was downgraded to a level one threat and is currently expected to whizz past on Friday, April 13, 2029 at a distance of about 36,000 kilometers, just inside the orbit of our geostationary satellites."
Someone check my math and correct me
Radius of Earth = 6378km, so this rock is passing within 6x earth's radius...
If you treat a circle of 12x earth's radius like a dartboard and throw rocks at random positions on the board, the chance of scoring a "hit" on Earth is 1 in 144.
If you throw such a "dart" every 100 years you'd expect to hit Earth on average every 14,400 years.
If you throw such a "dart" every 1000 years you'd expect to hit Earth on average every 144,000 years.
Evidently there were no massive asteroid induced extinctions for millions of years. So darts cannot be being thrown at the dartboard this regularly.
In which case isn't it a bit weird that we are seeing a rock like Apophis now? If it is a 1 in 100,000 year event then the odds of it happening just as we have the ability to see it coming.
Not saying that Apophis is not a coincidence, but...I figure I am wrong and the puzzle is figuring out what error I have made in reasoning. Perhaps "darts" have lower probability of hitting the center than other equal sized areas on the dartboard. I can't see why though.
"what error I have made in reasoning"
I'd think the error is assuming the asteroid has been passing close to Earth regularly for millions of years - it may be relatively new, having been produced by collision between asteroids or the orbit may have just started to coincide with Earths recently. The orbits of everything are affected by everything else - hence my mention of Chaos Theory earlier.
"isn't it a bit of a coincidence"
The only coincidence I can see is that between the rock and the Earth. Don't know how many countless others have passed by in the millenia when we couldn't track them. There are a lot of asteroids moving in chaotic orbits , even though the sol system is very big given enough time one will hit again.
Are refitting their loads of ICBM's for long range, deep space, long duration missions.
And none of them are using every opportunity that every asteroid that goes past presents, to take pot shots at them and perfect the techniques of breaking them into bits and or knocking them into the sun / into deep space.
What are they doing?
They are sitting on their fat corporately funded arses, peering through the telescopes, saying, "Oh my god, gotta watch out for that one!"
Satan - she understands ruling the earth with fire.
"The odds of a 2036 impact are still tiny – an estimated 1 in 250,000 "
So the year after I retire (assuming I dont have to work till I'm 110 by then) I still have more odds of being struck by an asteroid than winning the lottery (Much better odds if I recall, isnt the lottery 1 in 14,000,000 or something?)
Actually the odds of dying for each individual human are much greater
It hits the ocean off the west coast of the US and kills 25 million people by direct impact and 1 billion by the way of climate change leading to crop failures (Note: the countries with the most arms will also get most of the food in the aftermath)
So your chances of snuffing it are much great than the 1 in 250 000 chances of the rock hitting earth.
But then you get a 1 in 1 chance of snuffing it anyway
Yeah thank God it won't hit a true bastion of society like Mississippi. Where would we be without Southern Baptist holy creationists who run the casinos,or the redneck nascar loving white lightning drinking wife beating trailer park drunks, or the didn't finish 3rd grade sister loving homophobes?
The Titanic took about 2 years to build and the Iceberg that it hit was born at around the same time.
So an asteroid which has probably broken away from the asteroid field is scheduled to meet the earth quite soon with a bit of a bump. I am concerned about inevitable destiny.
My friend tells me its all controlled by missing scientists in the Bermuda triangle.
The asteroid will come much closer in 2029, given us an opportunity to eliminate the risk of future collisions with this particular near earth object. Of course the risk of nuclear detonation directly against the asteroid BEFORE it reaches Earth is that smaller pieces will enter the atmosphere, but what about shortly afterward? Essentially we'd need to launch a nuclear warhead-armed rocket chasing after the asteroid after it safely passes Earth and outside the orbit of the furthest satellites.
Could you be certain of pushing it into a safer orbit? You might accidentally change the next near miss into a collision course. Or if you blow it to pieces, you might ensure the earth gets peppered with city-destroying fragments on every close approach.
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