BBC reports that asteroid could be on course to collide with in 2019 : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread

BBC News July 24, 02

Space rock 'on collision course'

An asteroid could devastate Earth

By Dr David Whitehouse

BBC News Online science editor

An asteroid discovered just weeks ago has become the most threatening object yet detected in space.

A preliminary orbit suggests that 2002 NT7 is on an impact course with Earth and could strike the planet on 1 February, 2019 - although the uncertainties are large.

Astronomers have given the object a rating on the so-called Palermo technical scale of threat of 0.06, making NT7 the first object to be given a positive value.

From its brightness, astronomers estimate it is about two kilometres wide, large enough to cause continent-wide devastation on Earth.

Many observations

Although astronomers say the object definitely merits attention, they expect more observations to show it is not on an Earth-intersecting trajectory.

It was first seen on the night of 5 July, picked up by the Linear Observatory's automated sky survey programme in New Mexico, US.

Since then astronomers worldwide have been paying close attention to it, amassing almost 200 observations in a few weeks.

Dr Benny Peiser, of Liverpool John Moores University in the UK, told BBC News Online that "this asteroid has now become the most threatening object in the short history of asteroid detection".

NT7 circles the Sun every 837 days and travels in a tilted orbit from about the distance of Mars to just within the Earth's orbit.

Potential devastation

Detailed calculations of NT7's orbit suggest many occasions when its projected path through space intersects the Earth's orbit.

Researchers estimate that on 1 February, 2019, its impact velocity on the Earth would be 28 km a second - enough to wipe out a continent and cause global climate changes.

However, Dr Peiser was keen to point out that future observations could change the situation.

He said: "This unique event should not diminish the fact that additional observations in coming weeks will almost certainly - we hope - eliminate the current threat."

Easily observable

According to astronomers, NT7 will be easily observable for the next 18 months or so, meaning there is no risk of losing the object.

Observations made over that period - and the fact that NT7 is bright enough that it is bound to show up in old photographs - mean that scientists will soon have a very precise orbit for the object.

Dr Donald Yeomans, of the US space agency's (Nasa) Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, told BBC News Online: "The orbit of this object is rather highly inclined to the Earth's orbit so it has been missed because until recently observers were not looking for such objects in that region of space."

Regarding the possibility of an impact, Dr Yeomans said the uncertainties were large.

"The error in our knowledge of where NT7 will be on 1 February, 2019, is large, several tens of millions of kilometres," he said.

Dr Yeomans said the world would have to get used to finding more objects like NT7 that, on discovery, look threatening, but then become harmless.

"This is because the problem of Near-Earth Objects is now being properly addressed," he said.

-- (, July 24, 2002



-- (, July 24, 2002.

Lars, get to bed

-- (youre@getting.verysleepy), July 24, 2002.

Lars doesn't go to bed until after the Art Bell show.

-- (leave@him.alone), July 24, 2002.

Hey, it's a BBC report. Not Art Bell.

-- (, July 24, 2002.

Yeah, but you heard about the BBC report on Art Bell.

-- (don't lie now @ god. is watching), July 24, 2002.

Like I've said before, I don't listen to Artie. Doesn't matter. It could be true. The observations to date are preliminary. But what happens in 6 months or 2 years or whenever if it is determined "beyond a shadow of a doubt with geoometric logic" that there will be a collision? What then, smarties?

Party-on Garth, party-on Wayne.

One of the cable-news channels is doing a feature about this tonight. Didn't catch which one.

-- (, July 24, 2002.

You're lying, and you know it.

-- (God will remember this @ Judgement. Day), July 24, 2002.

CNN report

-- (Nero @ fiddler.on the roof), July 24, 2002.

But what happens in 6 months or 2 years or whenever if it is determined "beyond a shadow of a doubt with geoometric logic" that there will be a collision? What then, smarties?

Party-on Garth, party-on Wayne.

Ummm, you're waiting for an asteroid to be determined with geoometric (sic) logic before you party-on? Jeez lars, get mitt der program. Party-on now dude, life is short, make it sweet, and leave a hole when you're gone.

-- Uncle Deedah (, July 24, 2002.

I'm all for partying Unk, I've done my share and will continue. My intent is to expire on a high.

I posted this item because I think it (or something like it) has huge implications. Right now, and always in the past, humans have been trapped in partisan, tribalistic, nationalistic, religious or ideological squabbles. Usually they are bloody. This is our nature, this is how "God" made us.

So far, none of these dangers have threatened the entire world. (not even the nuclear standoff between the USSR and USA). Someday, something will threaten the entire world. Maybe it will be extraterrestrial, maybe it will be terrestrial (disease, environment, whatever). But it will be something universally recognized as a threat to everyone. Even the nihilistic haters like Osama will want to make common cause with infidels. Maybe, if the world perceives a NJ size iron-rock hurtling towards Earth at 50000 miles per hour, that could generate a common-cause.

That common cause mill be a bacchanal to end all bacchanals. Maybe it will be a task force of the world's technical elites uniting under Bruce Willis to deflect the killer-asteroid.

Should be interesting.

-- (, July 24, 2002.

17 years from now?? Sheeeet Lars, who cares, we'll be dead by then! I'm gunna use da same straturgy on this as I dun on da global warmun, if it ain't gunna happen in my lifetime I dudint give a crap, heh-heh. Why should we spend the munney on sumtin that will probly miss us, when I cun give it ta my corprut crimnal buddies insted?

-- Dumbya (who cares bout da fushure @ wull. be dead), July 24, 2002.

It's a ROCK

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), July 25, 2002.

Lars, I'll bet you loved the movie Independence Day. : )

PS- I didn't know your mom posted here. ; )

-- Pammy (, July 25, 2002.

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