Sudan hit by Apollo Asteroid

Artist's impression of a LARGE asteroid impact

Posted by Dee Norris

A recently discovered Apollo Asteroid, 2008 TC3, exploded over Sudan at about 1046 EDT on October 7, 2008.

2008 TC3 was discovered on Monday by an observer at the Mt Lemmon Observatory near Tucson, Arizona. 2008 TC3 is notable in that it is the first Asteroid of its size that was identified before impact and tracking it put the entire Spaceguard tracking system to an extreme test.

TC3 is estimated to be only two to five meters in diameter but exploded with the force of a one kiloton nuclear device.  Asteroids of this size hit the Earth every few months according JPL scientists.

No deaths have been reported yet.

The important lesson here is that Spaceguard is able to identify and track these smaller objects as well as the larger ones.  A 20 to 50 meter asteroid exploding over a major city could result in a significant loss of property and life.   The most imagined dire consequences of AGW could never stack up to the actual consequences of a larger asteroid actually impacting nearly anywhere on the Earth.  If for this reason alone, funding for space exploration needs to be continued.

More at:


UPDATE1: Please note that the use of an alarmist headline and imagery to increase the casual reader’s desire to look at the entire article was an intentional parody.  – Dee

UPDATE2: See this article on whats happening in the world of astronomy due to this event. – Anthony

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68 Responses to Sudan hit by Apollo Asteroid

  1. shawnbarr says:

    Wow, if a small meteor has that kind of impact I can’t image what a 75 meter one would do. Thanks for the report.

  2. H says:

    Isn’t amazing that one of these asteroids can hit the earth every few months and no-one has died!

    Given the constant claims that the world is teeming with fecund and destructive humans, I thought anything falling from the sky could not help but hit one of us. Is it truly possible that there are areas of the world that are wilderness and have not been despoiled by our kind?

    The Americans sent Sky Lab Australia’s way about 20 years ago but missed hitting anyone only because we were too quick for them and evacuated the Outback just in time. Phew!

    Let’s not add this to the list of things we have to panic about just yet.

  3. More at:
    JPL Small-Body Database Browser

    Good that JPL knows how to calculate positions of solar system bodies [no barycenter nonsense].

  4. manfred says:

    Sounds like a story right out of sience fiction. The image is anyway…

    http://www.sciencefiction.dk/udgivelser/proxima/proxima-nr-87.html

  5. Soren Rasmussen says:

    Given that the asteroid disintegrated on its way through the atmosphere and did not actually reach the ground in Sudan, it is a bit misleading to state that Sudan was hit. And the lack of fatalities from such regular occurrences becomes less surprising, when we know that objects of this size burn up before they impact anything other than air.

  6. Mary Hinge says:

    “The most imagined dire consequences of AGW could never stack up to the actual consequences of a larger asteroid actually impacting nearly anywhere on the Earth.”

    90% of the creatures on Earth at the end of the Permian might disagree with you but you are right about increasing funding for space research. This is the first asteroid of this size to be identified before impacting the atmosphere, but it was only discovered on the 6th October, one day before impact.

    H (23:29:13) :
    “Isn’t amazing that one of these asteroids can hit the earth every few months and no-one has died!”

    Not really, asteroids of this size fragment and burn up in the atmosphere, anything that hits the earths surface is very small and extremely unlikely to hit anyone! It’s the larger Tunguska size events that could cause concern (estimated once every 100 years or so. The Tunguska event was in 1908!).

  7. Dishman says:

    “No one noticed the rock.”

    One rock can ruin your whole day.

    One of my biggest problems with the AGW frenzy is that the proposed “solutions” impair our ability to deal with other threats.

  8. Steve Berry says:

    Read ‘The Three Big Bangs’ by Philip Dauber & Richard A Muller – then you’ll chew your nails!

  9. Louis Hissink says:

    The Wikipeida entry states it burned up without touching the ground. So no impact. The ground path of the this meteorite shown in the same Wikipedia report completely contradicts the imagery for this post as well, since it was a glancing trajectory.

    Such a trajectory would have produced elongate craters, similar to the Carolina Bays, but certainly not a circular one normally assumed to be the result of meteor impact.

  10. tty says:

    Mary Hinge:

    That the P/T extinction was caused by a runaway hothouse is very far from certain. It seems unlikely, but not impossible, that it was caused by a large asteroid or cometary impact. There are points for and against both theories. Read for example: Erwin, D. H. (2006). Extinction, for an up-to-date review.

    Incidentally, not all impactors of this size fragments (“explodes”) in the atmosphere. Nickel-irons survive down to the surface, fortunately they are a minority.

  11. Neil Jones says:

    I once saw one of these mothers skimming the upper atmosphere before leaving for parts unknown. It was after long sunset and spectacular.

    Ain’t nature fun.

  12. alexjc38 says:

    There appear to have been a few of these small-to-medium impacts over the last 100 years or so, fortunately over wilderness areas, including:

    1863: Wabar desert, Saudi Arabia: (could have been 1891, there’s some confusion.)

    1908: Tunguska.

    1930: Brazil.

    1947: Sikhote-Alin Mountains, Russia.

    I’m wondering whether there have been plenty of others during this time, but falling into the middle of the ocean, hundreds of miles from anywhere, thus not being recorded. Any bets?

  13. Jeff Norman says:

    Hit? Hit what, the atmosphere?

    What will that do for the October MSU data? (tongue in cheek)

  14. Dee Norris says:

    Speaking of climate and in-bound asteroids, evidence is increasing that Younger Dras was triggered by an comet that exploded over Canada. This from July 2008 –

    Exploding Asteroid Theory Strengthened By New Evidence Located In Ohio, Indiana

  15. T Bailey says:

    (Posting this is not necessary)

    Couple of things…

    Please add a caption for the image that mentions it was only added for illustration and is not accurate. I get it, but others may not. No need to hurt your reputation.

    Second, the image is hot-linked from another site which uses their bandwidth and is considered a faux pas at a minimum, but many consider it theft since they have to pay for bandwidth.

    Love reading your blog, but wanted to mention some constructive criticism.

    Reply – Good points. Thanks! – Dee Norris

  16. Dee Norris says:

    @Mary Hinge:

    “Every Global Disaster is caused by Climate Change” seems to be the mantra lately.

    The cause for the Permian–Triassic extinction event is still up for grabs, but it is more then likely that climate change would have been a consequence of the cause of the event, not the cause itself.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permian-Triassic_extinction_event

  17. MarkW says:

    Incidentally, not all impactors of this size fragments (”explodes”) in the atmosphere. Nickel-irons survive down to the surface, fortunately they are a minority.

    ————–

    Even if it did survive it’s passage through the atmosphere, the meteorite would have been slowed and been reduced in size tremdously.

    I doubt it would have had enough energy left to make a big crater.

    IE, unless the puppy hit you in the head, you wouldn’t have muct to worry about.

  18. MarkW says:

    I once saw one of these mothers skimming the upper atmosphere before leaving for parts unknown. It was after long sunset and spectacular.

    Ain’t nature fun.

    —————-

    How do you tell the difference between an asteroid that skimmed the atmosphere vs. one that plunged into the atmosphere and burned up?

    Or for that matter, an asteroid that entered the atmospher but then was slowed sufficiently that it stopped creating the characteristic trail of fire.

  19. Alan the Brit says:

    Mary Hinge, Dee Norris,

    I thought the latest scientific suggestion was that the dinosaurs were already on their way out due to climatic/environmental changes, & that the Big One merely finished the job off! Presumably it was all that dino CO2/CH4 pumped into the atmosphere or something.

    OT – I see the Royal Society is claiming many deaths as a result of Ozone increases & must be tackled urgently. Any clues as to what this particular scare storey could be actually about or could it be that C02 is now so passé?

  20. Jack Simmons says:

    Dee Norris (05:17:57) :

    “Every Global Disaster is caused by Climate Change” but none by man.

    Climate changing events of the past:

    Creation of Universe

    Supernova producing solar system

    Whatever caused Permian extinction

    Yellowstone Super Volcano

    Chicxulub event

    Yet, somehow things eventually settled down. Without a single carbon credit being traded.

  21. Dee Norris says:

    @Alan

    The dinosaur die off was the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event. There have been many major and minor extinction events in the history of life

  22. Gary Plyler says:

    There is no such thing as a “one kiloton nuclear device”. The atomic bombs invented in 1945 were in the range of 25 to 35 kilotons of TNT. Those were SMALL nuclear devices. The largest thermonuclear devices of the 1960’s were in the range of 40,000 kilotons of TNT.

    Reply – The M54 warhead was a sub-kiloton fission device developed at the end of the 1950s and deployed until 1971. – Dee Norris

  23. Ric Werme says:

    Pedantry alert.

    It appears the object was a meteoroid, not an asteroid. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteoroid :

    Larger than a meteoroid, the object is an asteroid; smaller than that, it is interplanetary dust. The current official definition of a meteoroid from the International Astronomical Union is “a solid object moving in interplanetary space, of a size considerably smaller than an asteroid and considerably larger than an atom.”[1] The Royal Astronomical Society has proposed a new definition where a meteoroid is between 100 µm and 10 m across.[2] The NEO definition includes larger objects, up to 50 m in diameter, in this category.

    So, let’s include that as part of the parody value of the headline.

  24. Patrick Henry says:

    There is 99% probability that LA and Tokyo will be hit by catastrophic earthquakes during the next 100 years.

    There is a 100% probability that the next administration will waste massive amounts of taxpayer money in the fruitless and pointless pursuit of reducing CO2 emissions.

    C’est la vie.

  25. G.R. Mead says:

    Why does the need persist to define energetic events in terms of “x-ton nuclear device?” I am fine with multiples of “Hiroshima events” or similar descriptions, those are recognizable in scale. But “x-ton” explicitly refers to TNT equivalents. Adding “nuclear” to the measure is just pure sensationalism, since nuclear events are defined in equivalent tons of TNT.

    This is the same sort of linguistic breathlessness that is used by the AGW and other envirohysterics.

    Reply – Of course you are quite right. I was tempted to add the sentence. “Scientists don’t expect any effects due to radiation from the explosion.” Technically correct and totally alarmist! – Dee Norris

  26. Mary Hinge says:

    tty (03:33:20) :

    Mary Hinge:

    That the P/T extinction was caused by a runaway hothouse is very far from certain. It seems unlikely, but not impossible, that it was caused by a large asteroid or cometary impact. There are points for and against both theories. Read for example:Erwin, D. H. (2006). Extinction , for an up-to-date review.

    Dee Norris (05:17:57) :
    “The cause for the Permian–Triassic extinction event is still up for grabs, but it is more then likely that climate change would have been a consequence of the cause of the event, not the cause itself.”

    I’m actually in total agreement with you here that there would have been a cause before the global warming episode. The Siberian Flats looks like the most likely culprit, these could of course have been set off by an impact or the antipode of an impact. All interesting stuff

  27. G.R. Mead says:

    Re Gary Plyler (06:39:40) :
    There is no such thing as a “one kiloton nuclear device”.

    BTW, “dialable yield” man portable devices (or “satchel nukes”) are reputed to be on the order of a kiloton. Very dirty though, at such a low mass fission rate.

  28. Jonathan says:

    There is no such thing as a “one kiloton nuclear device”.

    Take a look at Nuclear Artillery.

  29. Dee Norris says:

    @ Mary Hinge:

    I’m actually in total agreement with you here that there would have been a cause before the global warming episode.

    Why would you think that any resulting climatic change would be warming? Most of the event causation theories would lead to cooling.

  30. Luis Dias says:

    Please note that the use of an alarmist headline and imagery to increase the casual reader’s desire to look at the entire article was an intentional parody. – Dee

    PUN INTENDED! LOOK! The pun WAS intended!! GOWD!

    Hint: Nobody Cares If Your Puns Were Intended

    Reply - I am sorry, perhaps I am a little obtuse, I am not clear where this pun you see lurks. Are you confusing parody with punning? – Dee Norris

  31. Patrick Henry says:

    Dee,

    Good to know that Dr. Hansen will be safe, as he spends so little time in his Columbia University office these days.

    The university culture at Columbia and Harvard through which Obama passed has been drenched in a reflexive anti-Americanism for several decades. Armchair blame-America-first leftism is the default mode. Disdain for the military is rampant, and conservative voices are rarely heard.

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/paglia/2008/10/08/palin/index.html

  32. Tamara says:

    Wait! An impact caused the extinction of the mammoths? How can that be? A space object couldn’t possibly equal the destructive power of stick and stone wielding nomadic humans!

  33. Dee Norris says:

    Tamara:

    It would seem that it also took out the stick and stone welding Clovis people along with the horses, mammoths, giant sloths and most of the other North America mega-fauna. The bison would seem to be the only survivors.

  34. Neil Jones says:

    To MarkW

    I checked with the local observatory, but as a long standing amateur astronomer I had a good idea that this wasn’t a standard meteor. It ran from horizon to horizon for a start, it left a trail that glowed long after it had passed, like a plane’s contrail, only so long after sunset It couldn’t be one (we were into Astronomical Twilight), and it “sang”. Although there is no detectable sound from these phenomena observers all round the world and for many years have reported “Hearing” something. It may have been what the ancients called the music of the spheres and is clearly different from everyday(Night) sounds.

  35. Steve Keohane says:

    Re: a cosmic calamity in Canada. I have to look at Velikovsky’s work again. He mentions an old Native American legend of fire from the sky in ancient times,
    if I remember correctly…

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  37. Tamara says:

    Dee:

    My archeology prof is gonna be ticked! (If he’s till around.)

    Reply – So were the Clovis people! – Dee

  38. Cathy says:

    OT.

    Oh, boy.

    They’re celebrating the current economic woes as a means to slow down global warming.

    NICOSIA (Reuters) – A slowdown in the world economy may give the planet a breather from the excessively high carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions responsible for climate change, a Nobel Prize winning scientist said on Tuesday.

    Atmospheric scientist Paul J Crutzen, who has in the past floated the possibility of blitzing the stratosphere with sulfur particles to cool the earth, said clouds gathering over the world economy could ease the earth’s environmental burden.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/GlobalEnvironment08/idUSTRE4966A220081007

  39. Drew Latta says:

    Dee Norris (05:17:57)
    “Speaking of climate and in-bound asteroids, evidence is increasing that Younger Dras was triggered by an comet that exploded over Canada. This from July 2008 –

    Exploding Asteroid Theory Strengthened By New Evidence Located In Ohio, Indiana”

    The Late-Pleistocene impact hypothesis is certainly interesting, but I’ll patiently wait for Tankersley’s paper to be published. I was unaware that minerals could be sourced using x-ray diffraction, although it will certainly tell you that they are there. It would certainly seem to be a hot topic in the Pleistocene/Holocene geology field, and I know that this U of Cincinnati group is not the only one looking to evaluate the hypothesis.

    My problem with the meteor impact people is that they believe that extraterrestrial sources are the cause of most mass extinctions. For example, one of the authors (Luann Becker of UC-Berkeley) on the Firestone et al (2007) PNAS paper that laid out the hypothesis of the Late-Pleistocene impact event has been on TV (History Channel or National Geographic) outlining the case for a impact event causing the End Permian extinction, but this is by no means settled.

    The thing with large asteroids is that they are anything but subtle, so they are easy to pick out and link to extinctions, but poor adaptation to environmental changes, or loss in diversity etc ect are less easy to pick out and link more conclusively to extinctions. However, all might have been operative.

  40. Bobby Lane says:

    Some rather exciting news from the Southern Ocean:

    “Hundreds of new marine species and previously uncharted undersea mountains and canyons have been discovered in the depths of the Southern Ocean, Australian scientists said Wednesday.
    A total of 274 species of fish, ancient corals, molluscs, crustaceans and sponges new to science were found in icy waters up to 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) deep among extinct volcanoes, they said.

    The scientists mapped undersea mountains up to 500 metres high and canyons larger than the Grand Canyon for the first time, the government’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said.”

    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=081008131848.agfcky9e&show_article=1

  41. Dee Norris says:

    @Drew Latta:

    I think that when there are massive extinctions and civilizations collapse at about the same time as a large impact, Occam’s razor makes it a safe bet on the impact.

    However, as I said already, the cause of the PT extinctions is still up for grabs and I agree there is still debate on cause of the KT extinctions. However I am 99.9% sure that both of these events were not anthropogenic. ;-)

  42. MartinGAtkins says:

    I wounder what portion of the asteroid was destroyed by anthropagenic CO2.

    Did we just save the planet?

  43. AnonyMoose says:

    An actual impact could be significant, although fortunately our cities cover only a fraction of the globe. Indeed, the “Spaceguard” name first appeared in Arthur C. Clarke’s book “Rendezvous with Rama”, where the organization was founded after Europe was roasted by a rock which destroyed Venice. I don’t see recognition of the name’s origin in the Spaceguard Foundation’s documents, but Clarke was a trustee.

  44. Keith says:

    Cathy (08:42:22), from quoted article, “… clouds gathering over the world economy could ease the earth’s environmental burden.”

    Yeah, right. Because air and water quality in prosperous countries such as the US, Canada, and most of Europe is so much worse than the pristine conditions in third-world countries or emerging third-world countries such as China. As if CO2 was the only “pollutant” that matters.

  45. SteveSadlov says:

    Got Alvarez?

  46. Steve M. says:

    I can’t imagine why the describe the explosion as 1 kilo-ton nuclear device. My only guess would be that the largest conventional bomb in use (that I’m aware of) is a 500 ton MOAB (mother of all bombs), and to use term nuclear to try to impress the public that this is a big explosion. I agree with some earlier posters…just say it exploded with the force of 1 kilo-tons of TNT. That would be 1/15 of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, of course 2 times the largest conventional bomb.

  47. Gary Hladik says:

    If warmists really believed in “the precautionary principle” they’d be screaming for more space defense funding. After all, the potential damage from an asteroid collision dwarfs IPCC predic–er, projections–of the impact of global wa–er, climate ch–er, climate chaos.

  48. Patrick Henry says:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/GlobalEnvironment08/idUSTRE4966A220081007

    Climate scientist is thrilled by the economic mess. We may freeze and starve to death, but at least our CO2 is reduced.

  49. tty says:

    “a Nobel Prize winning scientist “?

    It seems that giving to Nobel Peace Price to the IPCC has suddenly increased the number of “Nobel Prize Winning scientists” by about an order of magnitude. I suppose that Steve MacIntyre can call himself a “Nobel Prize Winner” too, since he was a IPCC reviewer. In fact I almost wish he would, since all righteous MSM (including Reuter) would then undoubtedly discover the speciousness and arrogance of such claims.

  50. Mary Hinge says:

    Dee Norris (07:24:10) :
    “Why would you think that any resulting climatic change would be warming? Most of the event causation theories would lead to cooling.”

    Because the paleaontological evidence shows there was warming! A good start on this subject is here http://www.geocities.com/earthhistory/permo.htm

    I wonder why you seem to be so reluctant to accept that changes in atmospheric constituents can cause global warming as well as global cooling. Does this go against your belief that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has no effect on global temperatures?

  51. Gary Gulrud says:

    From a Berkeley site on the Permian:

    “By the beginning of the Permian, the motion of the Earth’s crustal plates had brought much of the total land together, fused in a supercontinent known as Pangea.”

    Plate tectonics has established that supercontinents are a recurrent form, and have been associated with global temps of upto 72 degrees vis a vis the current 56 degrees sans supercontinent. The issue is ocean currents, not CO2.

    CO2, at STP, has an emissivity of 9*10^10-4 versus 0.94 for green leaves. Even the Rainman cannot argue one that away. The earth’s terrestrial surface radiates heat 1000 times more effectively than CO2.

  52. tty says:

    Tamara (07:51:25)

    You are absolutely right!
    Especially since the Late Pleistocene extinction of megafauna was not limited to North America, and the timing coincides very well with when Homo sapiens arrived in each area.
    It seems a bit contrived to postulate a string of asteroids hitting each continent in turn just as the first humans are settling in.

  53. batguano101 says:

    Wrath of God perhaps.

  54. Peter Melia says:

    “The important lesson here is that Spaceguard is able to identify and track these smaller objects as well as the larger ones.”
    Sorry Dee, the “Important Lesson” is that it was an amateur who discovered it, not a Government outfit.
    The second “Important Lesson” is that this amateur only discovered it 24 hours before impact. So not much room for Hollywood to make Bruce-Willis-saving-the-Earth films there.
    The third important lesson is the diameter of the meteorite, at 3/4/5/6 metres (nobody seems sure).
    Are these sizes fixed by God, on a sort of quantum basis, or can one, on a direct trajectory, of enormous size, and therefore weight (4/3 x Pi x R^3), get through, over a populated area of the globe, before the “Spaceguard” screen can spot it and so alert Hollywood that another meteorite blockbuster film is imminent? Post mortem.

    Reply – Spaceguard is mostly amateurs and that we could track something that small to the end is a first. I stand by my words. Can you imagine how much better spotting and tracking would be if just a small part of the funding targeted to stop AGW were shifted to a professional Spaceguard project? – Dee Norris

  55. Mary Hinge says:

    tty (12:23:45) :

    One continent in particular supports the theory of human caused extinction, Africa. This continent has large populations of large mammals and is also the birthplace of man. The mammals evolved with man and modified their behaviour accordingly. As man spread to different continents the larger mammals hadn’t evolved the fear factor and were relatively easy prey.
    The Pleistocene asteroid could certainly have contributed to the extinction of many species though, larger mammals would be susceptible to population fragmentation and with a long reproduction cycle would be canditates for extinction. In North America it was probably a combination of the two with the asteroid speeding up the process.

  56. Dee Norris says:

    @Mary Hinge:

    Does this go against your belief that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has no effect on global temperatures?

    You might find this absolutely surprising but I do believe that CO2 has a large impact on temperature, but just not at the current concentrations.

    Can you cite a more reliable source than geocities for PT warming? Thanks.

  57. Dee Norris says:

    @tty and Mary Hinge:

    I agree with almost all your points, especially the out of Africa and the lack of fear of the Homo genius everywhere but Africa.

    However, none of the other large Late Pleistocene extinctions have an asteriod impact in the general chronological vicinity. More than likely both humans and the impact drove the North American mega-fauna extinction. The Clovis culture may have very well started and finished the job with the impact sandwiched in between.

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  59. Gary Hladik says:

    Dee,

    There’s a nice 600-million-year composite plot of temperature and carbon dioxide here (scroll down):

    http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html

    It shows temp and CO2 comparable to current conditions for most of the Permian, with both rising toward the end. Check the sources given for the plot to see methodologies and reconstructions, especially the continental configurations.

    I can’t vouch for the sources, since proxy reconstructions in general remind me of black magic (*cough*Mann*cough*), especially ones going back hundreds of millions of years. Even if the results are reasonably accurate, the relevance to our current climate system is unclear, given the radically different continental layout.

  60. For an excellent treatise on megafaunal extinctions at the end of the last Ice Age see *Twilight of the Mammoths* by Paul S. Martin, 2005, UCPress. Martin postulates the “overkill hypothesis” implicating humans as the new predators in the Americas, without any asteroidal help.

  61. Ric Werme says:

    Peter Melia (14:50:12) :

    The second “Important Lesson” is that this amateur only discovered it 24 hours before impact. So not much room for Hollywood to make Bruce-Willis-saving-the-Earth films there.

    There is no coordinated search for boulder-sized objects. There is a search going on to find and catalog all asteroids with a size greater than 1 Km in Earth orbit crossing orbits.

    Several asteroids have been found only when they’ve been _leaving_ our vicinity, that’s one of the reasons for pushing this program. A few have gone by inside the Moon’s orbit around Earth.

    The third important lesson is the diameter of the meteorite, at 3/4/5/6 metres (nobody seems sure).
    Are these sizes fixed by God, on a sort of quantum basis, or can one, on a direct trajectory, of enormous size, and therefore weight (4/3 x Pi x R^3), get through, over a populated area of the globe, before the “Spaceguard” screen can spot it and so alert Hollywood that another meteorite blockbuster film is imminent? Post mortem.

    There is a relationship between size and number. The smaller the size, the more there are.

    Don’t rely on Hollywood scripts for stopping asteroids. The goal is to find something that will impact in the next decade or so, then send a probe to the asteroid in a trip lasting months, and start an ion engine that provides an efficient thrust to change the orbit ever-so-slightly so that it misses Earth (and probably take a slinshot trajectory into a safer orbit). In real life rocket science, nothing happens quickly except leaving the atmosphere. It takes many orbits for the space shuttle to rendevous with the ISS.

    If you think these lessons are important, then you should take the time to learn more about the project. You might also complain to the major news media that they should spend less time on the US presidential election and more time on material not covered every day for the last year. I was visiting a meteorologist at a Boston TV station once while he did his 11PM segment and he alerted viewers that there might be an aurora that night. The news director called after the news ended to chew him out for talking about something of interest so few people besides his amateur astronomer friends.

    In researching this reply, these sites are good starting points:

    http://geology.com/articles/earth-crossing-asteroids.shtml
    http://impact.arc.nasa.gov/intro_faq.cfm
    http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=6798
    http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news157.html
    http://geology.com/news/2008/asteroid-2007-tu24-close-flyby-of-earth-on-january-29.shtml
    http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news151.html
    http://www.ll.mit.edu/mission/space/linear/
    http://www-b.jpl.nasa.gov/releases/98/neatasts.html

  62. btw, I am opposed to further funding of NASA for any purpose. I say cut their budget to zero, lay off the employees, and sell the assets. Really. They are useless.

  63. MartinGAtkins says:

    Dee Norris (15:24:12) :

    @tty and Mary Hinge:

    “I agree with almost all your points, especially the out of Africa and the lack of fear of the Homo genius everywhere but Africa.”

    With due respect this is just plain silly. Homo erectus evolved along side the fauna and flora. We are a product of the environment. I doubt very much that early Mankinds history will show a sudden desire to munch on large wild animals unless it was a survival imperative. Even armed with fire and spear it was a dodgy prospect.

    Man was on the scene with teaming bison on the north American continent. It took the gun to blow them close to extinction, not bows and arrows or spears and fire. It’s probable that the abrupt swings between ice ages and warm periods put extreme strains on beasts that can’t quickly adapt.

  64. Dee Norris says:

    @MartinGAtkins:

    We are not talking H. erectus who vanished off the face of the Earth about 70 thousand years ago, but it’s very smarter cousin, the tooling using hunter known as H. sapiens whose ‘survive at all costs’ genetic heritage is from the survivors of the Toba explosion.

    The North American mega-fauna had survived prior ice ages and interglacials without mass extinctions until the arrival of the Clovis culture about 13 thousand years ago and vanished about 200 to 800 years later. Shortly after their arrival, there is a large comet/asteroid impact and lots mass extinctions. In other parts of the world, where every H. sapiens shows up, the mega fauna goes extinct, no impact needed. Coincidence? I think not.

    We lack the data to determine if the Native Americans (who arrived with most recent waves of wanderers across the Bering land bridge) would have eventually exterminated the bison had not Europeans arrived and eliminated 9 out of 10 locals with infectious diseases like small pox. The decimation took place a couple hundred years before the opening of the American West and the near extinction of the Bison. That 200+ years is more than enough time for the bison herds to re-fill the ranges.

  65. Midpoint says:

    The extinction of the American megafauna by a meteoroid is supported by fragments found in one side of a mammoth tusk and the complete absence of Clovis spearpoints after that date.

    The P/T extinction (~245 million years ago) occured at about the same time as the creation of the Siberian traps (huge volcanic deposits) which reduced the oxygen content of the atmosphere to as low as 9% over a period of several million years.

  66. Mary Hinge says:

    Dee Norris (15:16:37) :
    “Can you cite a more reliable source than geocities for PT warming? Thanks.”

    No problem, here is an interesting paper on proposed causes, the conclusion being it wasn’t one event alone but a synergistic combination of events, this seems a reasonable assumption. http://www.pnas.org/content/99/7/4172.full.pdf+html

    As regards evidence of global warming caused by the atmospheric changes discussed in the article, the following offer good paleantological evidence:

    Wignall, P. B., Morante, R. & Newton, R. 1998 The Permo{Triassic transition in Spitsbergen:
    delta 13Corg chemostratigraphy, Fe and S geochemistry, facies, fauna and trace fossils. Geol.
    Mag. 135, 47{62.
    This illustrates the migration of warm water algae to higher latitudes;

    The following references show a change from cool peat formation to warm temperate soils and plants
    Retallack, G. J. 1996 Paleoenvironmental change across the Permian{Triassic boundary on land
    in southeastern Australia and Antarctica. In Proc. Int. Geol. Congr. Beijing (abstract volume),
    p. 109.

    Retallack, G. J. 1995 Permian{Triassic life crisis on land. Science 267, 77{80.

    Dee Norris (22:44:47)
    “….eliminated 9 out of 10 locals with infectious diseases like small pox. The decimation took place ….”

    As decimate is now used for any large scale eradication/loss it’s interesting to note that, used correctly, decimate means a 1 in 10 loss. The word comes from the Romans who would punish a legion by picking by lots of one soldier in ten to be executed. “Marvelous race the Romans..”

  67. BGTH021 says:

    If this story is off the chain then you would like this one more. Go to this future version of USA Today. http://www.nqbeta.com.

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