Monday, June 27, 2011

We're All Gonna ... Nevermind

Caption: Not today.

Image credit: Screenshot of television series Faces Of Earth by Cujo359

Meanwhile, from the Department of We're All Going To Die, apparently a bus-sized blob of bad just narrowly missed us today:
An asteroid the size of a tour bus zipped by Earth today (June 27) in a flyby so close that the space rock was nearer to the planet than some satellites.

The space rock, called asteroid 2011 MD, reached its closest point to Earth just after 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT), when it crept within 7,500 miles (12,000 km) of Earth before whipping away again like a slingshot. The asteroid was flying over the southern Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Antarctica, at the time of its closest approach.

The asteroid was discovered just last week on June 22, but there was never any risk of it impacting Earth, NASA scientists said. Astronomers with the LINEAR near-Earth object survey in Socorro, N.M., made the find.

Asteroid Buzzes Earth in Close Shave
Satellites that are in geosynchronous orbit are a little more than 22,000 miles (35,800 kilometers) above Earth, so that was rather closer than usual. The Earth's diameter, though, is roughly 7,700 miles (12,800 km), so you could say it still missed us by a good distance.

According to the article, the asteroid would most likely have burned up completely in the atmosphere. The meteor that hit Meteor Crater was several times the size of this one.

Still, it would sure be nice to have had a real space program going the last thirty years or so. We might have systems in orbit that could spot these things well ahead of time, maybe even far enough away to make sure they don't hit us.

I guess blowing up other peoples' countries is more important.

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