Asteroid 3 times larger than Chelyabinsk making close approach… TODAY!

asteroid 2010 WC9

    

Last night in Australia, near-Earth asteroid 2010 WC9 glided silently across the starry sky of Brisbane while the city’s residents slept. Well… not every resident slept. Amateur astronomer

asteroid 2010 WC9

    

Dennis Simmons was wide awake and recorded the flyby:

“The asteroid moved rapidly through the constellation Hercules shining about as brightly as a 15th magnitude star,” says Simmons. “The ‘wobbly’ appearance of the trail is as a result of slight periodic errors in the telescope mount’s gear train. This is not caused by the asteroid tumbling!”

Tonight, the view will improve – a lot. On May 15th, 2010 WC9 will fly through the Earth-Moon system, splitting the distance between our planet and the Moon. At closest approach (203,000 km), the asteroid will glow like an 11th magnitude star (~40 times brighter than shown above) as it races through the southern constellation Pavo (the Peacock).

2010 WC9 is known as the “lost asteroid” because astronomers lost track of it soon after it was discovered in November 2010. The asteroid receded from Earth and didn’t return for nearly 8 years… until now.

Estimates of 2010 WC9’s size range from 60 m to 130 m wide. This puts it in the class of the Tunguska impactor, which leveled a forest in Siberia in 1908. And it is at least 3 times as large as the Chelyabinsk meteoroid, which exploded in the morning sky over Russia on Feb. 15, 2013, shattering windows and knocking people to the ground.

There’s no danger of a collision this time, though. Analysts are certain 2010 WC9 will not hit Earth – neither this week nor in the foreseeable future. New observations of the asteroid in recent days have extended our knowledge of its orbit and eliminated it as a threat for at least the next 100 years.


Comment: That’s good to know. Although, it’s a little bit disconcerting that they only know this because they just discovered that it’s going to miss us… as it is flying by!

2010 WC9 is invisible to the naked eye. Advanced amateur astronomers can photograph it, however, using mid-sized telescopes equipped with low-light video cameras. Southern hemisphere observers are favored, especially those in South Africa and southern parts of South America where the asteroid will be high in the night sky at closest approach.

[ephemeris] [3D orbit]

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Cosmic fender-bender: NASA’s asteroid-hunting probe develops mysterious dent (PHOTO)

READ MORE: Threat assessment: NASA’s asteroid hunter reveals scariest, Earth-bound objects (VIDEO)

After over a year of studying the March 2, 2017 snap to determine whether the mark was a smudge on the lens or something more sinister, NASA scientists determined that it’s actually a poppy-seed sized impact crater from some form of cosmic debris. The divet will not, they say, disrupt the spacecraft’s mission to the carbonaceous asteroid Bennu.

The photo was taken by the craft’s StowCam imager as part of a routine status check conducted six months after the initial launch. The indentation measures 0.08 inches (2mm) across and appeared on the craft’s ablative heat shield, a critical component for ensuring mission success.

The shield is designed to withstand such impacts, as well as protect the craft during its high-speed re-entry through the Earth’s atmosphere. Heat shield damage can seriously affect a mission – an investigation into the Columbia disaster found that damage to the shield on the shuttle’s left wing caused it to fail catastrophically during re-entry, killing all seven astronauts on board. 

The SRC is the part of the OSIRIS-REx vehicle that will be used to store the Bennu samples and bring them back to Earth, landing somewhere in the Utah desert in 2023. After an exhaustive analysis, the NASA team determined that the indentation does not pose a threat to the overall mission.

The OSIRIS-REx project was launched to extract some of the Bennu asteroid’s resources and return them to Earth while also helping scientists figure out how to properly blow it up – or at the very least bat it away. That’s right, Bennu is coming right for us (sometime in the late 22nd century), so NASA wants to find out exactly what it’s made of.

According to the probe’s mission statement, researchers believe that the asteroid may contain some of the molecular precursors to the origin of life on Earth as we know it. They are also expecting to find natural resources such as water, precious metals, and maybe even some organic matter. Finally, NASA will also use the mission to test the feasibility of using similar asteroids to fuel exploration of our solar system by both robotic and manned spacecraft who will piggyback on board.

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NASA: Previously unknown asteroid has a near miss with Earth

Asteroid 2018 GE3

    

We dodged a bullet today. It came within one half of the distance to the moon.

I got this notice in email from NASA about a surprise asteroid that gave us only one day of warning passing halfway between the Earth and the moon. It was the largest known asteroid to ever pass that close to Earth in observational history.

SURPRISE ASTEROID FLYBY: With little warning, on Sunday, April 15th, a “Tunguska-class” asteroid about the size of a football field flew through the Earth-Moon system. 2018 GE3 was discovered just the day before as it plunged inward from the asteroid belt. A quick-thinking amateur astronomer in Europe was able to record a video of the asteroid as it flew by.

With little warning, a relatively large asteroid flew through the Earth-Moon system on April 15th only 192,200 km (0.5 Lunar Distance) from our planet. 2018 GE3 was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey approaching Earth on April 14th. Hours later, amateur astronomer Michael Jäger of Weißenkirchen Austria video-recorded the space rock rushing through the southern constellation Serpens:

asteroid 2018 GE3

    

According to Wikipedia, 2018 GE3 is the largest known asteroid to pass that close to Earth in observational history,” says Jäger. “It was shining like a 13th magnitude star at the time of my observations.”

Based on the intensity of its reflected sunlight, 2018 GE3 must be 48 to 110 meters wide, according to NASA-JPL.

This puts it into the same class as the 60-meter Tunguska impactor that leveled a forest in Siberia in 1908. A more recent point of comparison is the Chelyabinsk meteor-a ~20-meter asteroid that exploded in the atmosphere over Russia on Feb. 15, 2013, shattering windows and toppling onlookers as a fireball brighter than the sun blossomed in the blue morning Ural sky. 2018 GE3 could be 5 to 6 times wider than that object.

If 2018 GE3 had hit Earth, it would have caused regional, not global, damage, and might have disintegrated in the atmosphere before reaching the ground. Nevertheless, it is a significant asteroid, illustrating how even large space rocks can still take us by surprise. 2018 GE3 was found less than a day before before its closest approach.

Based on an observational arc of only 1 day, 2018 GE3 appears to follow an elliptical orbit which stretches from the asteroid belt to deep inside the inner solar system. Every ~2.5 years the space rock crosses the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars – although not necessarily making close approaches to the planets themselves.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory has made an interactive orbit viewer available online here

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CNN suddenly concerned about very real threat of asteroid impacts amid government shutdown

Asteroid

    

This is what happens when Trump Derangement Syndrome is combined with hallucinogenic drugs …

CNN: Undetected Asteroids Could Threaten Earth During Government Shutdown

Two CNN correspondents claimed during an episode of The Lead with Jake Tapper that an asteroid could potentially threaten the Earth if the government shutdown continues.

CNN correspondent Tom Foreman recalled the time NASA could not monitor “potentially dangerous asteroids” for over two weeks, implying that NASA would not be able to prevent an asteroid attack if it hit Earth while the government shut down.

“In space, that same year, for more than two weeks, NASA reportedly stopped monitoring potentially dangerous asteroids. A big one, by the way, is expected to brush by Earth on February 4th,” Foreman noted.

[…]

Foreman added that if Congress does not reach a deal on a funding package and DACA amnesty negotiations, illegal aliens would be “thrust into a dangerous legal limbo.”

“If there is no deal as these negotiations stand right now, nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came as children, the so-called DREAMers would be thrust into a dangerous legal limbo,” he said.

[…]

Breitbart News

Nature

gets in on the act!

Update: “Scientists in the United States are bracing for impact”!!!

Scientists in the United States are bracing for impact after lawmakers in Congress failed to agree on a plan to fund the government, triggering its indefinite shutdown on 20 January.

As a result of the impasse, thousands of federal researchers have been ordered to stay at home, barred from accessing their government e-mail and phones.That will leave many science agencies staffed by small numbers of ‘essential’ employees, interrupting government research on everything from winter snowpack in the western United States to the inner workings of the brain. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) will stop processing grants, depriving some academic researchers of crucial funding, and NASA may be forced to delay the launch of spacecraft that have spent years in development.

But worst of all, many researchers say, there is no clear sign when the shutdown will end.

[…]

Nature

They are reporting the government shutdown in the same way that they report the wrather (climate change)… Unprecedented and worse than previously imagined!!!

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Return of the space skull: ‘Halloween asteroid’ to fly past Earth in 2018 (VIDEO)

Dubbed 2015 TB145, or the ‘Halloween asteroid,’ the over 600-meter-wide rock hurtled past Earth on October 31, 2015. Radar images captured by NASA as it came within some 480,000 kilometers of our planet revealed some of the pronounced cavities and ridges that give the macabre looking boulder its distinctive skull-like shape.

First observed on October 10, 2015 by researchers at the University of Hawaii, the asteroid is set to swing by Earth for a second run in the new year. According to Pablo Santo-Sanz from the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, the asteroid’s previous encounter with Earth yielded some spectacular information about its characteristics and behavior.

READ MORE: Tesla Roadster is prepped for SpaceX mission take-off at Cape Canaveral (PHOTO)

“From observations from Spain, we discovered that this object’s most likely rotation period is 2.94 hours, in other words, this is the approximate length of its day, although we cannot rule out another possibility: 4.78 hours, another solution which is consistent with our optical data,” he said.

“The object measures between 625m and 700m, its shape is a slightly flattened ellipsoid, and its rotation axis was roughly perpendicular to the Earth at the time of its closest proximity.”

Santo-Sanz added that through light analysis of the object, the rock is “only slightly more reflective than charcoal,” while the rate at which it absorbs heat is consistent with that of other asteroids.

The Halloween asteroid is expected to fly by Earth next November. However, it will not come anywhere near as close as before for many years to come.

According to Thomas G Muller, a researcher from the Max-Planck-Institute who was involved in studying the asteroid, the subsequent “exciting” visit from the Halloween asteroid will come 71 years from now.

“The next slightly more exciting encounter will be around Halloween’s day in the year 2088, when the object approaches Earth to a distance of about 20 lunar distances. The encounter on Halloween in 2015 was the closest approach of an object that size since 2006, the next known similar event is the passage of asteroid 1999 AN10 on August 7, 2027,” he said.

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Scientists to investigate if cigar-shaped asteroid could be an alien spacecraft

A team of researchers, including Stephen Hawking, is investigating whether the first known object from outside the solar system contains the first sign of life beyond our planet.

Using the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, scientists with the 100 million dollar research project Breakthrough Listen will observe an asteroid named ‘Oumuamua for 10 hours on Wednesday.

According to the project’s website, ‘Oumuamua, the mysterious interloper recently spotted moving rapidly through the solar system, was discovered by the Pan-STARRS project at the University of Hawaii in October 2017 when it passed by Earth at about 85 times the distance to the Moon — a stone’s throw away in astronomical terms. 

‘Oumuamua, formally known as 1I/2017 U1, is the first object discovered in the solar system that appears to originate from another star system. Its high speed – 196,000 mph at its peak – suggests it is not gravitationally bound to the Sun and that it will continue its voyage back into interstellar space.

The object sparked interest because it has a “highly unusual structure” for an asteroid, which tend to be round rather than long and thin. ‘Oumuamua’s shape is described as “an elongated cigar shape, hundreds of meters in length but with width and height perhaps only one tenth as long.”

Image: ESO/M. Kornmesser

According to a statement released by Breakthrough Listen, “Researchers working on long-distance space transportation have previously suggested that a cigar or needle shape is the most likely architecture for an interstellar spacecraft, since this would minimize friction and damage from interstellar gas and dust. While a natural origin is more likely, there is currently no consensus on what that origin might have been, and Breakthrough Listen is well positioned to explore the possibility that ‘Oumuamua could be an artifact.”

Breakthrough Listen’s observation campaign will begin on Wednesday, December 13 at 3:00 p.m. EST and will continue across four radio bands, from 1 to 12 GHz, for a total of 10 hours.

Whether the object is an alien craft remains to be seen, but scientists have seemingly offered a glimpse into their excitement and optimism with its name — ‘Oumuamua is a Hawaiian term meaning roughly ‘a messenger reaching out in advance.’

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Humans wouldn’t exist if dinosaur-ending asteroid hadn’t struck where it did

That’s according to new research by Japanese scientists Kunio Kaiho and Naga Oshima, who published their findings Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports. They posit the asteroid, known as the Chicxulub Impactor, which smashed into what was then a shallow sea in modern day Mexico, would not have been so devastating if it hit about 87 percent of anywhere else on the planet.

The roughly six mile (10km) wide asteroid created a crater more 110 miles (176km) across when it smashed into our planet. The collision released more energy than 1 billion atomic bomb detonations which destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the close of WW2.

More than 75 percent of all land and sea animals, the most famous of which being dinosaurs, were wiped out as a result. Huge volumes of ash, soot and dust shot into the atmosphere, blocking as much as 80 percent of precious sunlight from reaching the surface of the planet.

The pair believe the key ingredient in the extinction is the soot, which was produced when the impact ignited rocks loaded with hydrocarbon molecules such as oil. However, the amount of hydrocarbon in rocks varies widely depending on their location.

With this in mind, the team set about analysing places on Earth where the rocks have a high hydrocarbon molecule content. They found that only about 13 percent of the planet have such an environment, essentially meaning that the dinosaurs were unlucky the asteroid hit in such a hydrocarbon rich area.

“The catastrophic chain of events could only have occurred if the asteroid had hit the hydrocarbon-rich areas occupying approximately 13 percent of the Earth’s surface,” the scientists wrote in a university press release.

It’s a good thing for humanity, however, or else we may never had evolved in the first place.

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Largest asteroid in a century to whiz by Sept. 1

The largest asteroid in more than a century will whiz safely past Earth on September 1 at a safe but unusually close distance of about 4.4 million miles (7 million kilometers), NASA said.

The asteroid was discovered in 1981, and is named Florence after the famed 19th century founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.

“Florence is the largest asteroid to pass this close to our planet since the first near-Earth asteroid was discovered over a century ago,” said a US space agency statement.

It is one of the biggest asteroids in the Earth’s vicinity, and measures about 2.7 miles (4.4 kilometers) wide—or about the size of 30 Egyptian pyramids stuck together.

Via Phys.org


Featured Image: Kevin Gill/Flickr

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Asteroid size of 40 football fields to scoot by Earth in September

Asteroid Florence, named after 19th-century English nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, is on track to pass at a distance of 4.4 million miles (7 million km).

Tipped to be one of the largest asteroids to ever fly by Earth, the wandering space rock last took a similar path back in 1890.

READ MORE: Total solar eclipse: What you need to know (VIDEO)

“While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence will on September 1, all of those were estimated to be smaller,” Paul Chodas, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said.

“Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began.”

About 2.7 miles (4.4km) in length, approximately the same as 40 soccer fields, Florence will be studied via radar imaging on September 1 by NASA’s Goldstone Solar System center in California.

The US space agency is hoping that radar will successfully reveal the exact size of the asteroid, as well as interesting nooks and crannies on the surface. Excluding a drastic shift in trajectory, the asteroid will not threaten life or critical infrastructure.

It means NASA won’t have to employ its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) concept craft.

READ MORE: NASA to build asteroid-smashing probe to divert Didymos space rock (VIDEO) 

The probe by NASA and the European Space Agency is currently being designed to deflect potentially-disastrous objects from smashing into Earth.

Scheduled for a test in 2022, DART will plow into one of the Didymos asteroids in an attempt to knock its trajectory. A grouping of two rocks, Didymos is due to pass Earth at a safe distance between 2022 and 2024.

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