Asteroid blows past Earth in near miss

From ChicoEr.com

Flying close enough to Earth that in astronomic terms one could feel the breeze as it passed, a small asteroid flashed by just after midnight today.

NASA reported the space rock, with the unimaginative name of 2012 KT42, was just 8,700 miles above the atmosphere when it went by.

While the asteroid’s approach is actually within the orbit’s geosynchronous satellites, it is not of the sort to inspire fears of global destruction.

NASA estimates the object is roughly 10 to 30 feet in diameter. It is still not tiny. The fireball that flashed over California earlier this year and dropped fragments of itself over the Sierra Nevada, was said to be abut the size of a mini-van.

From Spaceweather.com

SMALL ASTEROID BUZZES EARTH: Newly-discovered asteroid 2012 KT42 is flying past Earth today (May 29th) only ~14,000 km above the planet’s surface. This means 2012 KT42 will actually fly inside the Clark Belt of geosynchronous satellites. The 3- to 10-meter wide asteroid ranks # 6 on the top 20 list of closest-approachers to Earth. According to the asteroid’s orbit, there is no danger of a collision. Even if it did hit, this space rock is too small to cause significant damage. It would likely disintegrate almost entirely in the atmosphere, peppering the ground below with relatively small meteorites.

Flyby images: #1, #2.

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50 thoughts on “Asteroid blows past Earth in near miss

  1. An astroid with the name 2012 KT42 ? Oooh I don’t like the sound of that!

    It is sobering to realize that one of these rocks can plow through 150 km of atmosphere in as little time as it takes to say, “Late Cretaceous Extinction Event.”

  2. It may not pose a risk to earth but if it were to play cosmic pinball with a few geosynchronous satellites then it may pose more of a problem then is foreseen.

  3. In the future we can look forward to more asteroids passing closer to Earth, or even crashing due to Global Warming caused by our emissions of CO2.
    /sarc
    But seriously, the last large impact from space was Tunguska in 1909, and I remember reading it was once a 100 years event. Does it mean we are overdue an impact? Tunguska meteorite was as powerful as a large hydrogen bomb explosion, destroying an area 90×90 miles (or 800 sq m)….

  4. Cool but not concerning.

    Astronomy is becoming more sensitive.

    Beware becoming excited by previously invisible signals, masked by noise.

    This is what happened when the ECD was invented. (Think about it).

  5. @ Garry Stotel says:
    May 29, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    In the future we can look forward to more asteroids passing closer to Earth, or even crashing due to Global Warming caused by our emissions of CO2.
    /sarc
    But seriously, the last large impact from space was Tunguska in 1909, and I remember reading it was once a 100 years event. Does it mean we are overdue an impact? Tunguska meteorite was as powerful as a large hydrogen bomb explosion, destroying an area 90×90 miles (or 800 sq m)….
    ***************************************************************************
    There have been several others, tho not quite as large as Tunguska, since then. One in the Indian ocean around the late 70′s if I recall. Military message traffic at the time thought it was a nuke at first. Still no conclusive proof either way. The Vela Incident.

    Probability says that most meteor’s etc. will land in the oceans, or uninhabited areas, so quite a few impacts would have been missed before 1965 or so.

  6. According to the Royal Astronomical Society, anything less than 10 metres in diameter is a meteoroid.

    ZZZzzzz

  7. That’s nothing. In 1883, the world came a lot closer to ending: Interpretation of the observations made in 1883 in Zacatecas (Mexico): A fragmented Comet that nearly hits the Earth, Manterola, et al 2011:

    For the calculated distances, we see that these objects were close to impact Earth. Furthermore, the calculated size of the objects is greater than or of the same order of the object which produced the Tunguska event. So if they had collided with Earth we would have had 3275 Tunguska events in two days, probably an extinction event.

  8. I’ve never seen a scientific paper use Comic Sans before. Seems more appropriate to papers from The Team, somehow…

  9. There is evidence that marine impacts are larger and more frequent than generally believed.

    Along 2500 km of the Western Australian coast, prehistoric ephemeral marine inundations (storm surges or tsunamis)
    were much larger than those that occurred since European settlement. The evidence is in the form of shell and coral
    deposits atop 30-m-high headlands, sand deposits containing large boulders, shell and coral several kilometers inland,
    and fields of large imbricated boulders across shore platforms. The size of transported boulders and the altitude of
    these deposits suggest that tsunamis were responsible, not large storm waves. The orientation of boulders reveals
    paleowave directions. Radiocarbon dating of the deposits suggest three very large tsunamis along this coast during
    the past millennium.

    http://www.tesag.jcu.edu.au/staff/jnott/abstracts/Jour%20Geol%20(WA%20tsunamis).pdf

  10. Info like this always makes me smile and then I get mad. For all the ‘I lov Gaia’ crap I see on the internet, not one of them ejits seems to realise how fragile our planet/biosphere really is.
    We have zero redundancy, none, nada. We need to get ourselves off this rock asap and colonise other planets and eventually other solar systems when the tech allows.Hell maybe teraforming is possible so we can take the rest of the flora and fauna with us.

    /rant off, opening a beer and enjoying WUWT !

    Heggs.

  11. When I first saw the article on spaceweather (one of my favorite sites, along with WUWT and ICECAP), I thought it was about previous day’s 2012 KP24 flyby (yep, two flybys in two days). But when I read the article, I changed my bedtime plans. Conditions were great here in Colorado – a clear if chilly night, with the asteroid high in the southern sky. So I quickly set up the 12-inch reflector and tracked the little rock for 42 minutes, from 0612 to 0654 UTC, as it swept across 45 degrees of sky and set into the trees to my west. Along the way it brightened from magnitude 11.5 to 10.5, a whole magnitude brighter than predicted. Aside from some meteorites I’ve held in my hands and other meteors flashing though the upper atmosphere, this is the closest astronomical object I’ve ever seen. According to NASA Horizons, 2012 KP24 was just 19158 km from my house when I last saw it, about the same as a plane flight to Australia. AT 3 to 10 meters, the “dwarf planet” is about the size of my living room, or even one of the bathrooms. It would be fun to stand on a world that size and carefully jump into orbit.

  12. Thanks for this story Anthony. Interesting! And while this one was small, the part that bugs me is that the Asteroid was discovered only 1 DAY before it flew buy – INSIDE of our belt of geosynchronous satellites. Yipes!

    If one wants something ‘environmental’ to be concerned about – and spend some money to avoid a bad outcome – asteroid detection is at the top of my list. An impact from a big one (albeit highly unlikely) will produce a well-agreed negative outcome. As opposed to having to manage an average temperature increase of a few degrees (against a diurnal range of 10′s of degrees).

    I would sign up for NASA spending some $ to increase our detection and mitigation of such near-earth objects.

  13. Heggs says: @ May 29, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    …… We need to get ourselves off this rock asap and colonise other planets….
    ____________________________
    One of the hopes of my youth as I avidly devoured Asimov, Heinlein, et al. I could cry when I think of the depths that NASA has descended to. It must really stick in the craw of the retired Astronauts and Engineers that saw us into space.

  14. “The asteroid was discovered by Mt. Lemmon Survey with a 1.5-m reflector + CCD on May 28, 2012 at magnitude ~18.1.”

    The Mt Lemmon website says that they use binary asteroid systems to determine the density of the astroids. Their calculations show densities of .8, and 1.7…Apparently asteroids are made of sugar and spice and everything nice.

    They only look like rocks.

  15. Correction… 2012 KT42, not 2012 KP24, was just 19158 km from my house when I last saw it
    Don’t know how I could have ever confused the two.

  16. omnologos says:
    May 29, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    How much is spent every year on asteroid protection compared to climate monitoring and mitigation?
    ————————————
    A recent documentary put it at the cost of running a McDonalds. Not the whole company, just one restaurant. I think it may actually be up into the low tens of millions now. So much for the vaunted Precautionary Principle.

  17. Garry Stotel says:
    May 29, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Tunguska meteorite was as powerful as a large hydrogen bomb explosion, destroying an area 90×90 miles (or 800 sq m)….

    Don’t go into the biz; math is not your forte.
    90×90 = 8100, not 800.

  18. P.S. to above note to Garry Stotel;
    And I’m fairly sure the area destroyed was circular, not square, so the area would have been
    π x 45^2 = ~6362 sq. mi.

  19. Brian H:

    “And I’m fairly sure the area destroyed was circular, not square . . .”

    More like an ellipsoid I would expect, given that it probably did not come down perpendicular to the ground. Anyway, I love the imagery of a meteorite leaving a square impact! That’s a lot more fun. LOL!

  20. “But one aspect is unusual about 2012 KT42: it experiences not only a flyby, but also an eclipse and a transit during the same flyby. …Now, I have looked a bit into eclipses experienced by asteroids while approaching the Earth-Moon system, and I don’t recall this ever happening before, so it’s a first. So far no observations have been reported during the partial eclipse period, but it will be interesting to see how the brightness changes.” ~Pasquale Tricarico

    http://orbit.psi.edu/~tricaric/2012KT42.html

  21. Minor typo, but for an important person:

    “This means 2012 KT42 will actually fly inside the Clark Belt of geosynchronous satellites.” I assume you meant Clarke Belt for Arthur C Clarke who first proposed the idea of communication satellites in synchronous orbit (and weather satellites, and other good uses).

  22. We spend a few million a year on cataloging asteroids which are, albeit extremely remote, a REAL threat but then we waste billions per year on the thoroughly FAKE threat of ‘climate disaster’. Many many people need to be thrown OUT of office in Washington DC.

  23. President: We didn’t see this thing coming?
    Truman: Well, our object collison budget’s a million dollars. That allows us to track about 3% of the sky, and beg’n your pardon sir, but it’s a big-ass sky.

    - The Armageddon Prophecy

  24. Sorry, asteroids don’t have the same wonderful properties of AGW.

    Asteroids are some random event that is physics in the Universe. Yes, the threat is real, clearly, but it’s natural. I wonder if the greens think we should do nothing to mitigate Asteroid collisions.

    AGW on the other hand has all kinds of wonderful guilt for people. We are destroying the natural order, and if only we all hated our humanity, hated our technology, we could live in static harmony with the wonderful religious experience of Gaia.

  25. climatereflections says:
    May 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Brian H:

    “And I’m fairly sure the area destroyed was circular, not square . . .”

    More like an ellipsoid I would expect, given that it probably did not come down perpendicular to the ground. Anyway, I love the imagery of a meteorite leaving a square impact! That’s a lot more fun. LOL!

    Actually, no meteorite or fragments or impact point have ever been found there. It was apparently a pure air burst, probably an iceberg from afar …

  26. I should clarify that 2012 KP24 is not 2012 KT42. Apologies for confusing two different asteroids.

    An asteroid that could be very interesting is asteroid 2011 AG5 as this open letter from Rusty Schweickart, an Apollo 9 Astronaut, to NASA makes clear:

    “If there is in fact an impending impact in 2040, what actions must we take and by when to prevent it? If, based on engineering examination, we can wait until after the 2013 or 2015 tracking opportunities, as your last letter states, that’s great! But we believe there are some subtleties that must be considered before asserting this.

    “For a series of very specific reasons I believe that the Deep Impact analogy (in which you suggest no action re AG5 is necessary now given NASA’s success in intercepting Comet Tempel 1 in 2005) is weak and may lead us to a false sense of security. If deflecting asteroid AG5 turns out to be significantly more difficult, then we may find that by waiting until after the 2013 apparition, it will be too late to prevent AG5 from passing through the 2023 keyhole. In other words we will have waited too long to act which would have potentially deadly consequences. For these reasons I believe a more thorough engineering analysis of a deflection campaign for AG5 is warranted now.”

    Something for 17 year olds to think about.

    http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=2011%20AG5;orb=1;cov=0;log=0;cad=0#orb

  27. Bernd Felsche says:
    May 30, 2012 at 4:44 am
    +++++++++++++++++
    Hehheh. Never trust a Vogon :o]

  28. Mike M says:
    May 30, 2012 at 5:57 am
    ””””””””””””””””””””””””””’
    Astronomy & Astrophysics is publishing a new study of the orbital evolution of minor planets Ceres and Vesta by J. Laskar, M. Gastineau, J.-B. Delisle, A. Farrès, and A. Fienga
    Published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2011, vol. 532, L4 -

    “Ceres and Vesta gravitationally interact together and with the other planets of the Solar System. Because of these interactions, they are continuously pulled or pushed slightly out of their initial orbit. Calculations show that, after some time, these effects do not average out. Consequently, the bodies leave their initial orbits and, more importantly, their orbits are chaotic, meaning that we cannot predict their positions . . . Ceres and Vesta gravitationally interact with the Earth, whose orbit also becomes unpredictable after only 60 million years. This means that the Earth’s eccentricity, which affects the large climatic variations on its surface, cannot be traced back more than 60 million years ago. This is indeed bad news for Paleoclimate studies.

    “Ceres and Vesta thus appear to be the main limiting factors for any precise reconstruction of the Earth orbit, which is fundamental for the astronomical calibration of geological timescales. Moreover, collisions of Ceres and Vesta are possible, with a collision probability of 0.2% per Gyr.”

  29. Eric Dailey says:
    May 29, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    I was sky watching last night.

    So was I. It was a spectacular night sky here in rural country. Truly breathtaking. I saw nothing unusual whizzing by unfortunately. I can only feel pity, for those who have no darkened sky, to view. Light pollution has condemned a whole generation to a washed out display of our universe. Pity. GK

  30. mfo says:
    “This means that the Earth’s eccentricity, which affects the large climatic variations on its surface, cannot be traced back more than 60 million years ago. This is indeed bad news for Paleoclimate studies.”

    I doubt that assessment very much. Considering that the relative difference between Earth’s mass of 5900 E21 kg and the mass of Ceres, 0.87 E21 kg (0.015% mass of earth) and Vesta is 0.3 E21 kg (.005% mass of Earth) together with the fact that they are orbiting in the same general direction as us in only a slightly higher orbit tells me that they cannot possibly have altered earth’s average distance from the Sun very much at all. Yes, I agree they are another factor in climate reconstruction in regard to eccentricity etc. but can’t possibly be in the same league as things like plate tectonics and wildly stronger concentrations of CO2 over the last 500 million years.

  31. climatereflections says:
    May 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Anyway, I love the imagery of a meteorite leaving a square impact! That’s a lot more fun. LOL!

    Check out Meteor Crater, AZ. Much more square than round.

  32. “P.S. to above note to Garry Stotel;
    And I’m fairly sure the area destroyed was circular, not square, so the area would have been
    π x 45^2 = ~6362 sq. mi.”

    Hey come on guys, what about if the asteroid was a cube? That would mean the blast area and hole would be square. Right? Science and Maths was always my strong point. lol.

  33. Unlike the tectonic plate stress building up off the coast of Oregon, meteor collisions have no memory, so if there was an even chance of a collision in the next 100 years a century ago, there’s an even chance today.

  34. Even if there is an asteroid heading directly to devastate and end life on Earth, the astronomers/scientists would never tell us. It is better that we don’t know and life ends with the blink of an eye. Ignorance is truly bliss……Hug your loved ones closer together and tell them how much you love them…

  35. Apropos of impact craters, no, none are elliptical.
    I am assured that it doesn’t matter what the angle of approach is, or how irregularly shaped the object is, the impact crater will alawys be elliptical. I teseted it in a sandpit, and I see it on the moon, but I confess I don’t understand why it is so.

  36. Oops- pardon my typo above.
    The sentence should read: “I am assured that it doesn’t matter what the angle of approach is, or how irregularly shaped the object is, the impact crater will always be circular. “

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