Close call – Asteroid near miss for Earth yesterday

From NASA’s Spaceweather.com and NASA JPL Twitter feed. It only takes one missed space rock to ruin your day.

asteroids_Potentially_Hazardous_As_1

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid - 3D rendering by by Arlene Ducao

On Friday November 6th at 2132 UT (16:32/ 4:32PM EST) asteroid 2009 VA barely missed Earth when it flew just 14,000 km above the planet’s surface. For comparison, Earth’s diameter is 12,756.1 km. That near miss was well inside the “Clarke Belt” of geosynchronous satellites.(35,786 km/22,236 mi)

Friday’s (Nov 6) flyby of asteroid 2009 VA is the third closest on record. (That we know about.)

If it had hit, the ~6-meter wide space rock would have disintegrated in the atmosphere as a spectacular fireball, causing no significant damage to the ground. But the fact that there was so little warning is troubling.

2009 VA was discovered just 15 hours before closest approach by astronomers working at the Catalina Sky Survey.

While millions worry about CO2, there seems to be little worry nor action about this list:

PHA_table

It is a threat we can actually develop technology for to do something about.

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92 thoughts on “Close call – Asteroid near miss for Earth yesterday

  1. The thing about the Asteroid threat that people don’t understand is that it’s a matter of if but when. We will get hit, again and again and again by big rocks too, not just the 6 meter rocks. And like Anthony said, this is something we can have control over.

  2. Is this the one ‘Crosspatch’ saw and posted on Tips and Notes?

    “crosspatch (21:07:25) : 6th November.

    Saw a nice fireball tonite at, I guess, around 8:30pm or so. We were driving South and it was moving at a shallow angle generally East to West not far above the horizon. It appeared to break up just before it disappeared.”

    REPLY: No, at 14,000 km it never entered the atmosphere, a requirement for “fireball”. – A

  3. How about changing the headline to “near collision?” A “near miss” would be a collision. Sorry, pet peeve.

  4. I suggest we all volunteer to set up an international commission to decide what to do.

    Is there a block of hotel rooms on Majorca available?

  5. Jeff Id (07:33:26) :

    The thing about the Asteroid threat that people don’t understand is that it’s a matter of if but when. We will get hit, again and again and again by big rocks too, not just the 6 meter rocks. And like Anthony said, this is something we can have control over.

    Come to think of it it is as good and better an excuse for global government as AGW. A real danger.

  6. An asteroid came at US
    but what could we do;
    we’d spent all our money
    to reduce CO2?

    “It is a threat we can actually develop technology for to do something about.”

    But there are other threats we cannot conceivably handle such as wandering black holes, gamma ray bursters, and near by super nova (and other dangers to be discovered, I’d bet).

    Despair ye puny humans of your own power! Repent!

    We can’t save ourselves but we sure can damage ourselves via pseudo-science, loony politicians, a mal-educated (i.e. government educated) populace and a government backed banking cartel.

    I’ve become a South Park fan (despite the language).

  7. Each of us is ~1,000,000 times more likely to die from an asteroid than to win the lottery. Here’s just one that could ruin your day:

    “2004 MN4 is about a quarter mile (400 meters) wide, large enough to cause considerable local or regional damage were it to hit the planet. It is larger than the asteroid that carved Meteor Crater in Arizona thousands of years ago, and much bigger than one that exploded in the air above Siberia in 1908, flattening thousands of square miles of forest.”

    http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/asteroid_update_041227.html

    The odds of 2004 hitting this planet in 2029 were estimated at 1 in 40. If we sent a team of climatologists up with picks and shovels and a computer, they could build a model that would prove it will miss. I say we send them.

  8. I’m not clear on the meaning of the chart. It’s labeled Nov. 2009 encounters, but only 3 of the 7 are dated 2009. The dates, I take it, are from when these objects were first observed, but the only recently came close? Are PHAs more commonly encountered in Nov. or does the year round calendar look similar?
    Thanks

  9. This is as good a reason as any for establishing a permanent human presence in space. Once out of the gravity well of Earth, it should be a straightforward matter to locate, track, rendezvous with and nudge aside these big rocks. And we can mine them for raw materials too!

  10. Someone needs to figure out how actions to prevent asteroid strikes can include world-wide wealth re-distribution. Civilization is not worth saving unless that higher ideal can be supported.

  11. For those of you who are afraid of CO², check this out:

    Meteor Crater, Arizona (from above)

    According to the source, the asteroid that made that was only about 50* meters in diameter. The hole is 1.2 km across by about 0.17 km deep. Plenty more where that came from.

    *Seems a bit small, doesn’t it?

  12. “Come to think of it it is as good and better an excuse for global government as AGW.” Jeff Id

    It is a reason for global cooperation not global government.

    What do you want to do? Set up a world government so a Hitler, Stalin or Al Gore can come to power?!

    Remember folks, government is FORCE. Ultimately, it will KILL or torture you (tasser, anyone? ) if you do not obey. That is why it must be strictly limited.

  13. I think you have confused miles and km.:
    Geostationary orbits can be achieved only very close to the ring 35,786 km (22,236 mi) high, directly above the equator.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geostationary_orbit

    REPLY: Yup. I was simply thinking of the geostationary distance, forgetting the rest of the story is in km, both are there now. Thanks for pointing it out. – A

  14. http://www.unicef.org.nz/page/305/ClimateKiwis4Kiribati.html

    An appeal by UNICEF to send Kiribati youth to Copenhagen. “So that young people from the South Pacific have a say in how to tackle climate change.”

    Well obviously they won’t be flying. Think of the carbon footprint!!

    I guess they’ll just have to paddle their dugout canoe. Lucky the North East
    Passage across the top of Siberia is now apparently open for shipping – should cut down the distance!

    Obviously the Copenhagen “Conference” is going to be one big waccky party, even if they can only eat locally resourced nut cutlets and veggie burgers. Meat is out, obviously. Perhaps an opportunity for someone to make a killing selling blister plasters to all those delegates who have walked, cycled, paddled or rowed to be there.

    So:-
    “Come, friendly Asteroid and fall on Copenhagen…”

    (with apologies to John Betjeman. And the Danes).

  15. jorgekafkazar 07:58:12:

    “…1,000,000 more likely to die from an asteroid than to win the lottery.”

    The odds against winning the jackpot in the UK National Lottery are 14,000,000 to one, according to the organizers. So that surely makes it 14 to one against being killed by an asteroid, if I understand you correctly. But I’ve never heard of anyone being killed by an asteroid.

  16. Sacred Cow (07:43:32) :

    How about changing the headline to “near collision?” A “near miss” would be a collision. Sorry, pet peeve.
    ————-

    I think the perversity of your peeve is your confusing the adverb ‘nearly’ with the adjective ‘near’. Does a ‘wide miss’ sound wrong to you? No, I don’t mean a fat spinster.

  17. anna v. 7:29:24

    Global government is not necessary for preventing asteroid strikes. Global co-operation would be helpful.
    =============================

  18. Oops, I get bitten everytime I don’t read the whole thread. Back2Bat made the same point at 8:11:49.
    ==================================

  19. The above post by jorgekafkazar is technically correct in saying that the odds of 2004 MN4 (now known as Apophis) hitting Earth in 2029 WERE estimated at 1 in 40. But that was way back in 2004, shortly after Apophis was detected (the piece he linked to is nearly 5 years old).

    We have known for some time now that Apophis will for sure NOT hit in 2029; and according to NASA-NEO the odds it will thread the ”keyhole” in space and hit us in 2036 are 4.3 E-06; i.e.: VERY small.
    BUT:
    There are surely still a considerable number of potentially dangerous NEOs out there that have not been detected and plotted; and the Apophis saga serves as a clear warning that we the inhabitents of this planet ignore at our peril.

    It’s been said before: What is truly infuriating and unacceptable is that people in Congress are eager to spend and cost us $100s of billions to ”fight” wildly speculative AGW; but they ignore the urgent need to spend a few paltry $10s of millions to adequately fund NEO science.

    SIDEBAR: Good summary page with links to individual NEOs at:

    http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/risk/

  20. Martin Brumby 08: 39: 38:

    Martin, you can’t go wishing an asteroid to fall on the Danish capital. I’ve heard it said that Copenhagen is wonderful, wonderful.

  21. According to “Ancient Crash, Epic Wave,” (Sandra Blakeslee, NY Times, Nov. 14, 2006) quite a large meteor seems to have hit the earth about 4800 years ago, creating a crater on the floor of the Indian Ocean about 18 miles wide. The impact appears to have created a tsunami so high that it swept material from the seabed up to 20 miles inland on the southern edge of Madagascar. At least 4 such “chevrons” (a geology term for these landforms) of that length and from this impact have now been found on Madagascar (and many more of lesser length have now been found elsewhere, all thanks to Google Earth).

    We know know that such impacts in the ocean, throwing up large amounts of sea bed material onto land (and creating havoc in the atmosphere as well), are far more common that we had thought prior to Google Earth’s usefulness in spotting previously unknown chevrons.

    Prior to reading the article, I thought asteroid or meteor impacts on earth were likely rare events. Reading this article, and learning not just about this event, but a much more recent one around 800 AD in Australia, had made me change my mind. Here is a link to the Blakeslee article:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/14/science/14WAVE.html?ex=1321160400&en=35b395ffd080eb47&ei=5090

    And here are the first three paragraphs:

    “At the southern end of Madagascar lie four enormous wedge-shaped sediment deposits, called chevrons, that are composed of material from the ocean floor. Each covers twice the area of Manhattan with sediment as deep as the Chrysler Building is high.

    On close inspection, the chevron deposits contain deep ocean microfossils that are fused with a medley of metals typically formed by cosmic impacts. And all of them point in the same direction — toward the middle of the Indian Ocean where a newly discovered crater, 18 miles in diameter, lies 12,500 feet below the surface.

    The explanation is obvious to some scientists. A large asteroid or comet, the kind that could kill a quarter of the world’s population, smashed into the Indian Ocean 4,800 years ago, producing a tsunami at least 600 feet high, about 13 times as big as the one that inundated Indonesia nearly two years ago. The wave carried the huge deposits of sediment to land.”

  22. If the link to the Blakeslee article gets chopped off because of its length, just Google “Ancient Crash, Epic Wave, Sandra Blakeslee.”

  23. Why are they so confident it would have burned up in the atmosphere? It depends on what it is made of. This one did not instantly evaporate:

    And neither did that famous office-block sized chunk that skimmed across the mid-US in the 1970s. Still trying to find a Youtube clip of that one – it was quite a sight, travelling from horizon to horizon.

  24. What the environmentalists don’t understand is that the Earth needs humanity to save it. We all now the dangers of space travel and as the earth travels in space, it is bound to get hit hard. Even the sun will go poof some day. Only with the advancement of science and the creation of a technologically advanced society the Earth can be saved. Who know, we could even be able to control the sun some day or even move the earth in a safer orbit when it expands or whatever. If we are reduced to live for ever in the middle ages, the Earth and the Environment has no chance to survive, no chance at all.

    Maybe we were put here to save the Earth from the harsh cosmic environment by becoming a technologically advanced society.

  25. “asteroid 2009 VA barely missed Earth when it flew just 14,000 km above the planet’s surface. For comparison, Earth’s diameter is 12,756.1 km. That near miss was well inside the “Clarke Belt” of geosynchronous satellites.(23,000 km)”

    If you look closely at the photo, you can see Comsat 123 plastered on the surface.

    All kidding aside, a small asteroid or comet fragment impact is an event likely to occur within the period of a century (think Tunguska). Why the panic to spend billions in a futile tilt at the AGW windmill while NEO survey telescopes costing low 10s of millions could help us better assess the impact risk? Ah yes, nobody gets rich over the telescopes (Al Gore Kliner Perkins) and no govt rakes in hundreds of billions in tax revenues with the telescopes. My bad.

  26. This is the stuff of movies. I was in two of them. While an asteroid can be a civilization ender, so can stewing in a pot of CO2 driven heat. You would think a weather man could grasp this, but politics can be a slatewiper.

  27. >>marky48 (10:57:15) :
    This is the stuff of movies. I was in two of them. While an asteroid can be a civilization ender, so can stewing in a pot of CO2 driven heat. You would think a weather man could grasp this, but politics can be a slatewiper.<<

    Even worse would be broiling in the hot air coming from the mouths of politically-biased scientists whose agenda is to reduce the number of humans who are consuming "too much" of the planet's resources.

  28. The disturbing part of this is that it is ~SIX meters across and was detected only FIFTEEN hours before closest approach. At that time it was 0.003 AU away (~448,794 km).

    http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=2009%20VA;orb=1

    Looking at it with respect to the amount of sky that it occupied and working it up to a 1 km sized object, it could have been 0.5 AU out and would have fit the detection parameters of this event.

    That’s unnerving. I certainly ‘hope’ that we are better than that because there would be a lot of ‘change’ for people within 50 miles of a 1 km impactor.

  29. RE: so can stewing in a pot of CO2 driven heat.

    Yeah, too bad we can’t control the climate.

    That is, even IF we wanted to…

    Even IF we needed to.

    This isn’t a ‘reality-based’ movie. Sorry.

  30. When we get hit I hope that it is a small one as opposed to one that smashes an
    entire city or even a country.Although I doubt even that would wake us up..

  31. I think John Phillips has a good point.

    If the solution to the meteor hazard involved hobbling industry in the West, particularly in the United States, you can bet that the liberals would be screaming about the asteroid threat.

    Ditto if there were some way to blame asteroids on white people alone.

  32. Sacred Cow (07:43:32) :
    How about changing the headline to “near collision?” A “near miss” would be a collision. Sorry, pet peeve.

    Here they’re thinking ‘near’ as opposed to a ‘wide’ miss, while near collision doesn’t quite pair with wide collision. Perhaps it’s the 113th nearest miss on record. Or the 3rd warmest miss since records began.

    In the spirit of NOAA, let’s call it a ‘mild’ miss.

  33. I have posted on WUWT about the need for a (three for redundancy) space elevator system. If this “near collision” did not bring home the need for easy access to near space, I don’t know what will.

  34. David in Davis (07:59:24) :

    The chart is only for November’s close approaches of PHAs. The Date column is when the closest approach occurs and the Miss distance column shows how close the asteroid will be where “LD” equals Lunar distance.

  35. Even though it is actually a greater threat to our lives than is any GHG, by many magnitudes, please don’t start here another hype about it, too! ;) Unless you can manage to divert the funds spent on climate action to asteroid action.

  36. It only takes one missed space rock to ruin your day.

    One unseen space rock, yes.

    David Ball – Urgency in getting our eggs out of this basket is not relevant to theoretical space elevators until a suitable material exists. With perceived urgency, we can already use nuclear and chemical power to get a significant gene pool started elsewhere…and use it to establish infrastructure to control asteroids.

  37. Great SciFi scenario David. Currently we would need ET tech assistance to construct anything strong enough and it would probably cost about 20 years of Global GDP. Just eyeballing the numbers.

  38. John (09:03:23), this idea doesn’t seem to be very well supported, according to the inter-web! ;-)
    Most articles that come up when searching say these “chevrons” are sand dunes.

  39. GORE: Hey Arnie, didn’t you do a space movie where you blew up an asteroid heading for Earth?

    GOVERNATOR: That was Bruce Willis, I was in ‘Total Recall’.

    GORE: I want to do a movie with asteroids colliding, making a big freeze up, followed by more global warming caused by methane release from the asteroids hitting the sea bed. Kinda like ‘the day after the day after tomorrow’. You could star in it.

    GOVERNATOR: Name’s too long. How about we do it as a sequel to my movie? We could call it ‘Total Bullshit’

  40. Why don’t we instrument these things when they pass so close? Not only would it facilitate tracking, but it would be like a free probe to the asteroid belt. Surely we can tag these close encounters and include a few basic observing instruments at a reasonable cost, when they are in our face.

  41. marky48 (10:57:15) :

    “This is the stuff of movies. I was in two of them. While an asteroid can be a civilization ender, so can stewing in a pot of CO2 driven heat. You would think a weather man could grasp this, but politics can be a slatewiper.”

    How is it you know that warming (for whatever reason) is a civilization killer?? Surely not because you claim to have been in two movies. Look, we can cope with hot weather, but getting hit on the head with a big rock we can’t. Quit drinking the koolaid.

  42. G. Karst (15:57:31) :

    “Why don’t we instrument these things when they pass so close? ”

    One reason is that no one even knew about it till 15 hours before it went sailing through our satellite paths. If you have any suggestions about how we could tag rocks flying thru space at enormous speeds, share them.

  43. David Ball (12:57:57) :

    “I have posted on WUWT about the need for a (three for redundancy) space elevator system. If this “near collision” did not bring home the need for easy access to near space, I don’t know what will.”

    Did you realize that this object was in “near space”? And you want a highway to “it”?

  44. Of course, a Carrington Event super solar flare is much more likely to occur than any major asteroid impact or supervolcano eruption — perhaps about one chance in 45 during each 11-year solar cycle. The last such event in 1859 was preceded by the deep solar minimum of 1856. It has been feared that the intense geomagnetic storm induced by such an event could generate powerful electric currents in modern electrical equipment sufficient to cause widespread systemic damage that would take years to repair. I hope we are well prepared for any such event — perhaps with a good supply of candles.

  45. Glenn (16:41:25), how else does one go about removing the threat? You have to think a little more on your view. Attaching a solar sail to an asteroid to change it’s trajectory requires easy access to space. Broaden your thinking. Anonymoose (14:39:14), the tech is not that far out of reach. There have been some great strides made recently in the materials required for the ribbon. Carlos(14:43:27): Don’t you think spending billions to “adjust” our atmosphere isn’t a Sc Fi scenario. Don’t appreciate negativity and small mindedness. There is enough of that in the world already. Besides, I am not alone in my thinking. There are a lot of very knowledgeable people who believe this is a good direction to go. Google space elevator. Start thinking of the potential of space access with zero energy expenditure. Space is not a hospitable place for humans, but that does not mean we shouldn’t make use of resources available to us. All the energy sources we could ever need, with very little damage to earth or the other planets. Sci-Fi indeed, ……

  46. But don’t you all know that Global Warming is increasing the risk of asteroids hitting the Earth? there is correlation between CO2 concetration and near misses, surely there MUST be one… LOL

  47. David Ball (17:13:55) :

    “Glenn (16:41:25), how else does one go about removing the threat? You have to think a little more on your view. Attaching a solar sail to an asteroid to change it’s trajectory requires easy access to space. Broaden your thinking.”

    I already have a headache, I don’t need for my head to explode. What you really need is science officer Spock to compute your trajectories and Scotty to supply the warp drive with fuel, then get the rubber band man to shoot you out there.

  48. That is the most childish rebuttal I have ever seen. Why are you even reading a science blog? “One reason is that no one even knew about it till 15 hours before it went sailing through our satellite paths. If you have any suggestions about how we could tag rocks flying thru space at enormous speeds, share them.” I had a suggestion and you dismissed it without even looking into it. Very weak. Seek counseling.

  49. “according to NASA-NEO the odds it will thread the ”keyhole” in space and hit us in 2036 are 4.3 E-06; i.e.: VERY small.”

    Could someone please post a link to more information about these :keys” please? I have read about them recently here in WUWT, but I don’t know anything about them. Thanks.

  50. kim (08:53:13) :

    anna v. 7:29:24
    kim:
    Global government is not necessary for preventing asteroid strikes. Global co-operation would be helpful.
    =============================

    Neither it is necessary for controlling CO2 even if it needed control. Nevertheless it is used as a lever towards world structures and government.

  51. Forget the asteriod movies. These things are hard to see except when they are really close, and whizzng by after missing. Otherwise, Bedazzlement as something grows brighter yet appears to hang motionless.

  52. Depending on the size of the asteroid, speed, direction towards earth, etc., a missile defense program could work. But if the asteroid was massive…not sure how effective terrestrial countermeasures would work. That would require some Interesting physics to figure out.

  53. David Ball (18:39:28) :

    “That is the most childish rebuttal I have ever seen. Why are you even reading a science blog? “One reason is that no one even knew about it till 15 hours before it went sailing through our satellite paths. If you have any suggestions about how we could tag rocks flying thru space at enormous speeds, share them.” I had a suggestion and you dismissed it without even looking into it. Very weak. Seek counseling.”

    So you’re G. Karst (15:57:31)? Dude, it isn’t the ones we know about that are the problem, it’s the ones that we don’t know about. They couldn’t be “tagged” till we knew about them, and then we’d, well, know about them and could keep track of them. Besides, the technology to tag an asteroid in an oddball orbit is nonexistent, and likely not possible till something like warp drive, near unlimited power in a small space. That’s just one problem of tagging an asteroid. It’s science fiction.
    As to your concern about getting people into “near space” with space elevator’s because of the threat of asteroid collisions, you should realize that space is very cold and void of breathing air, and there is only room on the space station for a limited number of people. The resources needed to provide room and sustain for a substantial number of people away from earth far exceeds our capabilities now or anytime in the far distant future. The technology just isn’t anywhere close for any of this, including space elevators. It’s science fiction. And the only reason to do all this would be to escape a very large impact. Small asteroids paths could possibly be moved with sails, but to consider this with the real danger, the large ones, is also science fiction, not much less so than to fantasize about using the earth as a giant spaceship using jet tubes.

  54. IIRC there is a couple of kiloton equivalent event from an in air burn up / impact about 2 x per year. The early “nuclear bomb detector” satellites were giving about 2 false alerts per year until the started filtering for the “double peak” in luminosity that a real nuke has.

    We do live in a shooting gallery.

    BTW, I believe that the 1908 even was a ‘roughly every 100 +/- a dozen or so year event.

  55. All that Cap & Trade hocus pocus can’t catch a single space rock.
    All that wasted climate prediction supercomputing power.
    No, they should be using those Terraflops for the next movie, Inconvenient Invasion of the Environmental Snatchers.
    The alien race is now seeding the planet, right under Gore’s nose. C02 isn’t toxic to terrestrial life, it’s toxic to the aliens. Hmm…. maybe they already abducted him and that isn’t the real Al Gore. A sharp investigative reporter has begun to notice that Gore eats strange things at the Party Banquets. As time goes on, he also notices that … oh, sorry, don’t want to spoil the movie for you. Oops.

  56. well, obviously detection is getting better. I recall around august 2003 or 2004 that there was a newly detected asteroid that was definitely in the large bus size realm which was expected to pass by at a little under 2 lunar distances and I prep’ed for imaging it for about 2 months. A few weeks before the anticipated event, it came out that something like a stadium size or perhaps even 1/4 mile dia. rock went whizzing past about 1/3 lunar distance that somehow I’d failed to hear about prior to the event. Turns out nobody spotted it for 3 days after closest approach. That is also still around the time David Levy was stating that the most likely impact scenario was that we’d detect the incoming rock 10 seconds after it entered the atmosphere.

  57. Tonight, Nov. 8th there will be a Discovery Channel presentation on “Surviving 2012″, in which a discussion of magnetic fields will figure prominently.

    Recent field work in Africa has revealed fossil remains of Homo Habilis, the first primate with a large brain case, also one of the first to use stone tools. Further research showed that the climate in Africa was very unstable during the time of Homo Habilis, with droughts and wet periods on a time scale that altered the formation of forests and savanna. They were able to adapt to this varying climate by evolving superior intelligence.

    Ironically, our legacy is climate change. We owe our existence to the ongoing adaption to the climate.

  58. On close inspection, the chevron deposits contain deep ocean microfossils that are fused with a medley of metals typically formed by cosmic impacts. And all of them point in the same direction — toward the middle of the Indian Ocean where a newly discovered crater, 18 miles in diameter, lies 12,500 feet below the surface.

    I wouldn’t know how to do the math on it, but the kinetic energy involved in plowing through 12,500′ of water, then still having enough energy to send out rock that far is both stunning, and humbling.

  59. DaveF (08:59:40) : “Martin, you can’t go wishing an asteroid to fall on the Danish capital. I’ve heard it said that Copenhagen is wonderful, wonderful.”

    How do they get it into those little round cans?

  60. “It is a threat we can actually develop technology for to do something about” How ? If they are big enough to be detected in time they are too big to be deflected or destroyed, if they are too small to be detected in time, well, there is no time. I have no doubt that some day we could have the technology to do something about them, but that day is very long ways off.

  61. Tom Trevor (16:48:45) It is not as far off as some would have you believe. The ribbon is the most difficult hurdle of the space elevator and that is currently at 8% of the strength required. This is within the realm of possibility. The rest of the tech required is currently feasible. The space station right now has the living space of a mid-range three bedroom home. As I am writing this there are 13 people living on the space station. A.C.Clarke predicted satellites 50 years before implementation. He was a firm believer in the space elevator and all its potential advantages. His book, “The Fountains of Paradise” is actually an interesting read, even if you are not a Sci-Fi fan. The man had vision.

  62. To explain how Clarke envisioned the ability to detect and deflect civilization killers, we have to take a step past the space elevator. Construct of larger faster vehicles is much easier if it is done in space. Once the vehicles are completed, they are docked at what are known as Lagrange points, Jupiter’s Lagrange points are the ones Clarke envisioned. They are far enough out that the “space tugs” could successfully redirect these mobile chunks of real estate. “Warp” drive is not necessary, as we have Ion drive that exist today. It is really not that far out of an idea. Talk to anyone who is over 80 years old, and not a single one of them could have guessed what todays world would have been like when they were young. We must not allow humanity and negativity cause us to collapse in on ourselves. Aliens did not build the pyramids, men did.

  63. Glenn (16:36:23) :

    “If you have any suggestions about how we could tag rocks flying thru space at enormous speeds, share them.”

    One would launch the instrument package on the same trajectory and attain NEAR speed. Then the target slowly creeps up on it.

    I realize this object gave little reaction time, however many are detected early.

    We have already landed a NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft NOT designed for landing on a asteroid (Eros). It remains there today.

    http://archives.cnn.com/2001/TECH/space/02/12/near.landing.02/

  64. I seem to recall reading that major asteroid impacts average about one every 500,000 to 700,000 years and equivalent supervolcano eruptions average about once every 100,000 years (Source: BBC).

    I have also read an estimate based on geological evidence that damaging super solar flares similar to the famous Carrington Event of September 1859 occur, on average, about once every 500 years — about 1000 times more frequent than ‘major’ asteroid impacts.

    A repeat of this solar event with our modern electrically dependent society could do much more damage than just disrupt telegraph communications and render some telegraph operators unconscious from electric shock.

  65. David Ball,

    I’m with you.

    Ever read the “Firestar ” series by Mike Flynn?

    Flynn with Pounelle and Niven wrote “Fallen Angels” which was meant to be satire but seems to be being used as a manual by the AGW types.

  66. Thank you Mike Borgelt. It has been many years now that I have moved away from the science fiction. It was what got me into reading as a youth and turned me into a voracious reader. I will endeavor to find Flynn’s series on your recommendation, as I believe it is time to be a little less serious and more imaginative in my choices again. I read to my children even before they were born, and they love when daddy reads to them today. It is a source of comfort for us all. Fear and fight the book burners.

  67. G. Karst (21:25:21) :

    Glenn (16:36:23) :

    “If you have any suggestions about how we could tag rocks flying thru space at enormous speeds, share them.”

    One would launch the instrument package on the same trajectory and attain NEAR speed. Then the target slowly creeps up on it.

    I realize this object gave little reaction time, however many are detected early.

    We have already landed a NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft NOT designed for landing on a asteroid (Eros). It remains there today.

    http://archives.cnn.com/2001/TECH/space/02/12/near.landing.02/

    ******************

    NEAR isn’t providing us with Eros’ location either, and “tagging” in the useful sense isn’t shown to be within our current ability by the example of the NEAR spacecraft.
    Do we really know if it remains there today? I doubt it would still be on a 6 meter rock.

    Of course, in your original post you were referring to tagging previously unknown objects such as the small 5 meter rock that just missed when they’re near us so that we could keep an eye on them. Your language was clear on “when they pass” and “when they are in our face”. That technology is far far away, Star Trek stuff.
    Sure, now that “asteroid 2009 VA” has been discovered, it’s location can be tracked to an extent. But there are thousands of these that we know about, and an unknown number that we do. It would be nice to have them all tagged so that we had more exact data available when they do get close (whatever value that is). Tagging them all is just science fiction, though, and unless they are all tagged, it only takes one that is unknown to hit without warning.

  68. David Ball (14:58:10) :

    “I guess Glenn is unaware that we have “tagged” NEOs recently. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/deepimpact/main/index.html – I cannot remember the name of the vehicle that flew through the comets tale a few years ago. Must have been SciFi.”

    No, but splattering something on a 7 kilometer rock isn’t “tagging”, and is a little different than usefully tagging a 6 meter rock for years and years of tracking. Running out and tagging previously unknown objects just as they pass by is also science fiction.

  69. WEEKEND FIREBALLS: On Saturday, Nov. 7th, just as the sun was setting over San Francisco Bay, a brilliant meteor glided across the sky and disappeared into the sunset. Witnesses say it was “slow-moving,” “white and green,” and that it left behind “a trail of smoke and sparkles of debris.” The fireball was gone before most photographers had a chance to raise their cameras, but several people managed to capture the lingering trail of debris:

    Gwen Wagy took this picture out the window of a car in Marina, Califonia. “The twisting trail resembled a noctilucent cloud,” notes husband Chris.

    Meteor expert Peter Jenniskens of NASA’s Ames Research Center believes the fireball was “a small asteroid that crashed into our atmosphere. The remains [of the space rock] probably landed in the Pacific Ocean.”

    Another possibility is that the fireball was a piece of periodic Comet 2P/Encke. Every year around this time, Earth passes through a stream of debris from the comet, and the encounter causes meteors to shoot out of the constellation Taurus. “The Taurid shower is definitely active,” notes Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “Our all-sky cameras have been picking up a couple of Taurid fireballs every night.” At the time of the Bay Area fireball, the constellation Taurus was rising in the east, so a Taurid identification is not yet out of the question.

    On the same night a few hours later, Brian Emfinger of Ozark, Arkansas, photographed a definite Taurid: movie. “I estimate its brightness at around magnitude -10 (almost 200 times brighter than Venus).” Sky watchers should be alert for more fireballs in the nights ahead as Taurid activity continues until at least Nov. 12th. The best time to look is during the hours around midnight when the constellation Taurus is high overhead: sky map. http://spaceweather.com/meteors/taurids/images2009/07nov09/emfinger1.wmv?PHPSESSID=838fdjufjn647s9sdnap55cp21

    Uh, Anthony, do you wish me to post the Taurids complex-a periodic calamity for Earth again?

  70. We see in Glenn a classic case of the mind clouded by negativity. If all mankind thought this way, we would never accomplish anything. He has not contributed one positive thing or idea to the conversation. Very helpful. Although some of my detractors would probably enjoy seeing me flung into space by the rubber band man, it is indicative of where his mind is focused (or not focused as the case may be). This posting is probably redundant since Glenn has sullied his views on his own.

  71. The problem is not just unknown objects. Even known objects alter their orbits and trajectories, due to unknown perturbations. These could be collisions with other space rocks, gravitational tugs, etc.

    If all we want to do is tag the object, it is relatively easy. Tagging can be done using a hardened impacter which embeds itself into the object. These “bullets” could be fired via a rail gun, rocket, etc. Anything passing close to the earth could then be tagged. Rapid fire might even be able to deflect or destroy incoming bogies.

    This is only ideas off the top of my head. I am sure the bright boys at NASA could figure a viable method for a fraction of the stimulus package.

    Sooner or later, we must own our orbit in space.

  72. For those going on about CO2, etc., here’s a recent study by a couple of actual physicists, from Germany:
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/0707.1161v4 (pdf).
    Not only is CO2 totally irrelevant, the whole concept of a “greenhouse atmosphere” is demolished. There is no physics basis for the comparison, or for the effect it pushes. The naive intuition that 1/3000 of the atmosphere can’t really heat it up is spot on, it turns out.
    Even a glass greenhouse doesn’t work the way the popular and IPCC model says. It has nothing to do with blocking IR rays. A greenhouse is warm because it’s closed in and hot air from the warmed surface has nowhere to go. Simple. And nothing whatsoever to do with a planetary atmosphere.

  73. They have the Hubble telescope that can see light years away and they can’t see something that is only 9,000 miles away?????

  74. Everyone who has taken Science 101 and those with an I.Q. over 30, KNOW that this “man-made global warming a.k.a. climate change” Climate change?? Duh! Is a total load of B.S.! It is simply a scare tactic by our bloated Government, to extract money from a lergely Science-illiterate Public!!

  75. This seemingly serene Little Blue Planet is actually profoundly more dangerous to us, than we are to it. Millions of humans have died from Earth’s NATURAL disasters in just my lifetime of 72 years.
    Science Fact: As soon as a Planet, or a Star is formed in our Universe, it begins the process of cooling. The surrounding outer space of the Universe ranges from 250 degrees below zero, to 459 degrees below zero [absolute zero] We live in a huge deep-freezer! It’s COLD out there!

  76. Each year, over 300 objects intersect Earth’s orbital trajectory. They range in size from a soccer ball, to the size of Manhattan. It is only a matter of time, before we arrive at the wrong place at the wrong time! Goodbye Planet Earth.

  77. Venus Owner (05:34:28) Very good posts. All cogent points, especially the last post, as to why we need to “own” near space ( as G. Karst so succinctly put it).

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