Small asteroid slams into Mars, impact captured by orbiter

A reminder that the universe isn’t always friendly. A spectacular image of impact crater follows.

From NASA JPL today. 

Mars_asteroid_PIA17932_hires

HD image here: 1920 x 1200

A dramatic, fresh impact crater dominates this image taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Nov. 19, 2013. Researchers used HiRISE to examine this site because the orbiter’s Context Camera had revealed a change in appearance here between observations in July 2010 and May 2012, bracketing the formation of the crater between those observations.

The crater spans approximately 100 feet (30 meters) in diameter and is surrounded by a large, rayed blast zone. Because the terrain where the crater formed is dusty, the fresh crater appears blue in the enhanced color of the image, due to removal of the reddish dust in that area. Debris tossed outward during the formation of the crater is called ejecta. In examining ejecta’s distribution, scientists can learn more about the impact event. The explosion that excavated this crater threw ejecta as far as 9.3 miles (15 kilometers).

The crater is at 3.7 degrees north latitude, 53.4 degrees east longitude on Mars. Before-and-after imaging that brackets appearance dates of fresh craters on Mars has indicated that impacts producing craters at least 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) in diameter occur at a rate exceeding 200 per year globally. Few of the scars are as dramatic in appearance as this one.

This image is one product from the HiRISE observation catalogued as ESP_034285_1835. Other products from the same observation are available at http://uahirise.org/ESP_034285_1835.

HiRISE is one of six instruments on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Science Laboratory projects for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Source: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA17932

h/t to SciGuy Eric Berger

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68 Responses to Small asteroid slams into Mars, impact captured by orbiter

  1. Mycroft says:

    No terra forming there then!

  2. Walter Allensworth says:

    Amazing camera resolution. Thanks for posting.

  3. Auto says:

    Excellent!
    Not sure how we parlay this 5o the masses.

    SASmiles,
    Auto

  4. M Courtney says:

    Too right.
    We ought to terraform the place just to save Mars from planetary acne outbreaks.

    And it would be as cool this.

  5. Eric Worrall says:

    The meteor which exploded over Russia recently detonated with the same force as a half megaton atomic bomb. We are incredibly lucky the explosion occurred in a sparsely inhabited region, that there were no fatalities.

    http://www.seti.org/seti-institute/news/nov-6-7-pm-meteor-exploded-over-russia-last-year-can-we-survive-bigger-impact

    There is no upper limit to these events – the odds that sooner or later, the Earth shall be struck by a dinosaur killer or worse, resulting in an explosion of thousands or even 10s of thousands of megatons of explosive force.

    And we’re frittering away our resources stressing about a half degree bump in global temperature? FFS, what will it take to wake us up, as a species? the loss of a few cities? Or are we simply too stupid to survive?

  6. kcrucible says:

    It probably has something to do with CO2. Extraplanetary events are getting more extreme.

  7. Ed Zuiderwijk says:

    Hold on to your hats!

  8. Keith Minto says:

    ……impacts producing craters at least 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) in diameter occur at a rate exceeding 200 per year globally

    This was surprising to me, a similar rate of impacts should be happening here.

  9. kingdube says:

    Love it: Extraplanetary events are getting more extreme.

  10. Jason Calley says:

    @ Eric Worall “There is no upper limit to these events – the odds that sooner or later, the Earth shall be struck by a dinosaur killer or worse, ”

    I can very confidently predict that the Earth will NOT be struck by another dinosaur killer.

    Not unless we find some more dinosaurs somewhere. :)

  11. Mike McMillan says:

    Ow. That’s gonna leave a mark.

    Great image, even if it is false color.

  12. Tom Norkunas says:

    Our thicker atmosphere provides a greater level of protection, and 70% would land in water, making a splash instead of a crater.

  13. J fisk says:

    Just as well it missed the orbiter and curiosity.

  14. u.k.(us) says:

    Keith Minto says:

    February 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    ……impacts producing craters at least 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) in diameter occur at a rate exceeding 200 per year globally

    This was surprising to me, a similar rate of impacts should be happening here.
    +++++++
    They never make it thru the thicker atmosphere (water vapor) intact ?
    Just guessing.

  15. Paul Westhaver says:

    No No… It was a giant jelly donut end-zone spiked in front of the orbiter camera by the highly advanced, yet still elusive, MARTIANS.

    No bucks…. No Buck Rogers.

    Ask anybody, especially Global Warming wiki editors. 99% agree, there is life on Mars.

  16. bk51 says:

    Understanding latitude on Mars is easy, it’s based on the axis of rotation, just like on Earth. But what about longitude? What is Mars’ prime meridian? Based on the article, it must have one.

    And it does…

    http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/msss/camera/images/01_31_01_releases/airy0/

  17. Gary Pearse says:

    Its a broad area of sand dunes. Prevailing easterly winds?? Note the N-S fracture on the left side (W side?) of photo. West side(?) looks down-dropped slighly.

  18. Mark says:

    Funny how it happened to hit at a perfect, 90 degree angle and failed to throw up significant debris.

  19. Michael J. Bentley says:

    Um, Eric,

    Did some work for our planetarium on the Russian Asteroid. Chelyabinsk is a city of over one million people. More than 2.5 million square feet of glass was shattered by the explosion. About a thousand persons were injured by the glass. I read one report that said some 60 people “suffered burns” because of the explosion. Donno about that one, but Chelyabinsk is not an “uninhabited” area of Russia. A half million tons of TNT is a fearsome force to deal with.

    Mike

  20. Dan in California says:

    Keith Minto says: February 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    ……impacts producing craters at least 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) in diameter occur at a rate exceeding 200 per year globally
    This was surprising to me, a similar rate of impacts should be happening here.
    —————————————————————–
    There are a lot more asteroids crossing the orbit of Mars than cross the orbit of Terra.

  21. Michael J. Bentley says:

    Eric,

    OOPS – misquote – sorry “sparsely inhabited region”

    Apologies,

    Mike

  22. MattS says:

    Keith Minto says:
    February 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    ……impacts producing craters at least 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) in diameter occur at a rate exceeding 200 per year globally

    This was surprising to me, a similar rate of impacts should be happening here.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Earth has a much thicker atmosphere. Most smaller meteors burn up completely and never hit the ground at all.

    Also, the ones that do reach the ground will leave smaller craters than they would on mars due to the greater deceleration caused by the thicker atmosphere here.

  23. MarkW says:

    Keith Minto says:
    February 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm
    —–
    They may be. Asteroids that small are unlikely to make it through the atmosphere.

  24. negrum says:

    kingdube says:
    February 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Love it: Extraplanetary events are getting more extreme.
    —-l
    So when will we see a paper linking CACA (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change) to CEPE (Catastrophic Extra-Planetary Events)? I am sure there is a PhD in there somewhere :)

  25. Keith Minto says:

    Mark says:
    February 5, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Funny how it happened to hit at a perfect, 90 degree angle and failed to throw up significant debris.

    It seems the explosion on impact rather than the impact entry angle causes the crater shape. http://www.lpi.usra.edu/education/explore/shaping_the_planets/impact_cratering.shtml

  26. negrum says:

    That would be CACC not CACA :)

  27. littlepeaks says:

    Does any one know where we can view the “before (2010)” image? Could not find it anywhere.

  28. george e. smith says:

    “””””…..Walter Allensworth says:

    February 5, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Amazing camera resolution. Thanks for posting……”””””

    Well not really; 1920 x 1280 is the resolution of my computer screen, and it is barely 2.3 Mpx.

    Any ordinary 65 inch (diag.) 4K TV set has 8.3 Mpx, and looks spectacular.

    But my fall back entry level camera, has 24.3 Mpx, and I can blow its images up to way bigger than 65 inches diag. (for the full picture) and still get sharp images.

    If I had some grant money, I would add a 36 Mpx camera body to my kit, for when I really want some big detailed pictures.

    But the new crater pic is spectacular; just not “amazing camera resolution.

  29. Bill Illis says:

    Tom Norkunas says:
    February 5, 2014 at 2:44 pm
    Our thicker atmosphere provides a greater level of protection, and 70% would land in water, making a splash instead of a crater.
    ———————————-

    Landing in the ocean doesn’t make much difference.

    Think of the 10 km asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. If it hit in the middle of the Pacific Ocean today, by the time it reached the bottom of the ocean (half a second after reaching the surface that is), there would still be 4 kms of asteroid sticking out above the previous surface of the ocean.

    And then the lithosphere is more shallow in the deep ocean. The asteroid would punch right through into the mantle.

    A bad day regardless of the ocean or not.

  30. Janice Moore says:

    Last November…

    Voice 1: So, did you hear about the Mars impact? Pretty big meteor, huh?

    A Strangely Familiar Voice (slyly gleeful): Actually…. that is where all the missing heat ended up. Mm, hm. Over the years, it has just rolled around and rolled around the North Pole and…. THEN…… KER — POW!!!! a…. uh…… uh……. uuuuuuuh… oh, yeah! The very, very, powerful, galactic cosmic rays from a solar flare catalyzed a chain reaction and launched it into space and, well, there ya go. (Aside: Turn up the temperature in the pool, Ameeleeyo…… Alfredo?…… Effcambrio??…. JUST DO IT!)

    Voice 1: Really, now. REALLY?? We’re saved!!

    ASFV: (melodramatically) Aaaand, now……. that HUMAN CO2-CAUSED GLOBAL WARMING is just a rollin’ and a rollin’ around the North Pole… . (Aside: two beers and another plate of nachos, Crambio…) Getting bigger and bigger and BIGGER and….. it’s only a matter of time until it EXPLODES when a…… uh…….uh …… uuuuuh….. a BIG BUS runs into it and it will
    warm
    the
    PLANET !!! (this planet!!!!!!!)

    To MILLIONS of degrees.

    I — AM — CEREAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    V1: Cool!!!

    ASFV: I’m going to sit on it until next summer… .

    (HA, HA, HAAA! An-th-ony forced your hand, NOW how will you convince U.S. voters to vote for the Envirostalinist candidates in November, 2014??)

    {Above text intercepted from a private phone conversation without a warrant. Cannot be used as evidence. Heh, heh, but it — can — still — be– used…. }

    #(:))

    ******************************
    CO2 UP. WARMING STOPPED.

    ………….#$#$#$#$#$# GAME OVER #$#$#$#$#$$#$#…….

  31. Janice Moore says:

    And ya know something, folks? While my above post was obviously silly… . The thing is,

    in scientific terms,

    the theory of AGW is just as ridiculous. Their “hypothesis” of human CO2-caused global “climate change” is JUST AS BIZARRE, for it is COMPLETELY unsupported by evidence.

    AGW is not even a plausible hypothesis. It is pure, unsupported, speculation.

    That any “scientists” can stand up in public and support such utter trash is amazing. Assuming they are not as dumb as a hockey stick, they must be completely blinded by:

    1. Pride — and or
    2. Greed — and or
    3. Psychosis.

    Oh, sure, Climate Boys (and Girls) shout your slogans a little louder, that oughta convince people. LOL.

  32. Janice Moore says:

    Sometimes, it’s good to get back to the basics! #(:))

  33. Karl says:

    journalist alerts the world “There is no upper limit to these events!! – the odds that sooner or later, the Earth shall be struck by a dinosaur”

  34. Reblogged this on Public Secrets and commented:
    A tracking, warning, and possible defense against asteroids slamming into the Earth would be a much better use for all those millions in research dollars, instead flushing it down a toilet to fight a problem that doesn’t exist — man-made global warming.

  35. Caleb says:

    NASA is just too embarrassed to admit the crater was made by one of their own spacecraft, engineered by Climate Scientists. (It was suppose to be a soft landing, but they put the retro-rockets in upside down.) /SARC

  36. Konrad says:

    The ejecta appears very bright. While the impact is close to the equator, there could be some permafrost below the surface. It would be interesting if there are any significant albedo changes in the next image of the site.

  37. old construction worker says:

    ‘Tom Norkunas says:
    February 5, 2014 at 2:44 pm
    Our thicker atmosphere provides a greater level of protection, and 70% would land in water, making a splash instead of a crater.’

    Maybe it’s part of nature’s way of mixing the oceans up in order to hide the “heat”.

  38. bush bunny says:

    The Russia had a large meteor explode over unpopulated forest and flattened huge expanses of trees sometime in the 20th century. This recent one exploded too without hitting the ground. I have seen this happen actually when I saw what looked like a big bomb burst high in our atmosphere, it did no harm I believe. I do think that our moon as taken a battering and at least this impact on Mars, had no oxygen to ignite it. Or it didn’t land in water or ice. As some believe life on this planet was brought from outer space before we had oxygen in the atmosphere.
    Gosh we could be distance relations to some ET’s. LOL A Martian microbe that grew into Michael Mann, and yearns for more CO2.

  39. Janice Moore says:

    @ Caleb. LOL. (… or maybe they outsourced that project to North Korea…)

  40. john robertson says:

    Seems the odds of an actual asteroid hit on earth are much higher than those of finding any significant anthropogenic global warming.(The actually measured kind)
    But thats all right, we will huddle here at the bottom of this gravity well, waiting for that asteroid.
    While hyperventilating over insignificant modulations of atmospheric Carbon dioxide concentrations.
    Once again proving the search for off planet intelligence, is pointless unless we can local some earthbound intelligence to use as a standard.

  41. dbstealey says:

    bush bunny,

    That meteorite hit Russia only a year ago. Could have happened anywhere…

  42. Leon Brozyna says:

    Well, there go the insurance rates for future settlers on Mars.

  43. Udar says:

    dbstealey,

    bush bunny is talking about Tunguska meteorite that landed(?) in Siberia early in 20th century. It was much bigger than the one that hit last year and it hit in completely unpopulated area. Good thing too, otherwise it would have killed a LOT of people.

  44. SIG INT Ex says:

    Well. JPL, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory IS a department of the California Institute of Technology (CIT) and is NOT a department of NASA.

    JPL CIT is a ‘Contractor’ to NASA! JPL CIT must bid and argue and debate its proposals as all independent researchers regardless of heredity to NASA on a proposal by proposal basis!

    I am typing this, to YOU, to educate YOU, and nothing more.

    Of course, I type in ASCII little endian: do YOU need big endian?

  45. High Treason says:

    Remember, Mars has MORE CO2 in its atmosphere than earth. Although the Martian atmosphere is only 1/20th as dense, it is about 95% CO2, thus about 200 times more. Now, why is Mars not a blazing inferno? Could it be Boyle’s Law PV=nRT at play, where temperature is proportional to pressure? As for the meteorite, Mars’ atmosphere would ablate very little from the bolide and most of the full cosmic velocity would remain in tact – typically 17-70 km per second. E=1/2 mv squared. V being a fairly large number,THUD, POW, SPLAT. Batman would be proud.
    It would be very interesting for the rover to get there and investigate the geology at the bottom of the fresh crater. Meteorite collectors on earth would just love to get their hands on some of the fragments.

  46. Alan Robertson says:

    Firing a high- power rifle onto a hard surface will often produce a similar- looking result.

  47. MattS says:

    Bill Illis,

    “Landing in the ocean doesn’t make much difference. ”

    For a very large asteroid such as the one accused of causing the extinction of the dinosaurs that would be true.

    For an object the size of what would have caused the pictured impact on Mars on the other hand it would make a huge difference.

  48. MattS says:

    Alan Robertson says:
    February 5, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Firing a high- power rifle onto a hard surface will often produce a similar- looking result.
    ======================================================================

    With nothing in the picture to indicate scale, a bullet hole was my first impression.

  49. William McClenney says:

    So that’s what a predominantly CO2 atmosphere near-earth planetary impact crater looks like! /sarc off

  50. Janice Moore says:

    @ Matt S. re: “…my first impression… .” Nice wit. lol

    (even though it was just I, kinda nice to know SOMEONE read your post, huh?)

  51. Alan Robertson says:

    A meteorite passed me as I was driving south one night on I-35. It put n a great display of trailing sparks and suddenly flamed out as it got a little bit in front of me. It couldn’t have been more than 50 feet off the ground and looked to be heading due South. I didn’t know that they came in from the North, but i guess they could come from anywhere.

  52. Alan Robertson says:

    MattS says:
    February 5, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    With nothing in the picture to indicate scale, a bullet hole was my first impression.
    _______________________
    or fired one of those blue sidewalk chalks through a mechanical baseball pitcher

  53. MarkG says:

    “It was much bigger than the one that hit last year and it hit in completely unpopulated area. Good thing too, otherwise it would have killed a LOT of people.”

    Hitting a heavily-populated area on Earth with an asteroid on a random trajectory is very hard; most of the planet is water, and most of the land surface has low population density. Even in a country as populated as Britain, over 90% of land is not built on.

    Now, sure, if you drop an asteroid with a ten gigaton equivalent yield anywhere on the planet, the exact location would make little difference. But the odds of an impact that large that happening in the first place are minute.

  54. Janice Moore says:

    William McClenney!

    Boy, I sure hope you check back here. I’m typing as fast as I can. (George E. Smith and Kevin Knoebel were both too quick for me — or, maybe…. they just ignored me, oh, well. Their loss.)

    Anyhow, ever since I replied to your Q about my being a tarheel with the fact that, around here, they mostly live “up river,” I’ve been hoping to clarify that remark. I hope it didn’t come off as implying that tarheels are not the wonderful people they are. Ninety-percent of them are, I reckon, exceptionally greathearted, clever, fun-loving, God-fearing, patriotic, hard working, people. With a sweet accsaynt and always a warm handshake and a twinkle in the eye, they may not dress fancy and they talk a leetle bit different, they are remarkably wise and are great wits.

    I’ve known several and liked them all. It would dyew me proud to be one, it’s jes that ah ain’t.
    #(:))

    If you see this (I think maybe my posts were posted in “invisible mode” today!), just a friendly wave of the hand as you drive by would be much ah-preesh-ee-ated. Thanks!

    Admiringly (you’re one of those intelligent, wise, witty ones, you know),

    Janice

  55. Janice Moore says:

    “A meteorite passed me as I was driving south one night on I-35… .” (Alan Robertson 9:28pm)

    “… aaand, that, Officer, is why I was going 90 miles an hour. If I hadn’t, you wouldn’t be talking to me right now.”

    “That’s right, son. License and registration, please.”

    #(:))

    (or maybe… it was that shoe I threw at you when you said I talked a lot, #(;))

    you did duck… .)

  56. @ Keith Minto

    I would venture to say that Mars, in it close proximity to the asteroid belt, may be the largest contributor to the number and/or size of meteor impacts it has.

    Research into the subject suggests that 98% of all meteor impacts come from the asteroid belt.

    In astrophysical terms, Earths larger mass and the resulting gravitational pull, should produce more impacts on Earth.

    It could be that Earth has already cleared a path of many would-be NEAs, where as Mars and its low gravitational pull puts it in a position to ‘wait’ for the NEAs to cross its path.

    There is also the probability that high-inclination orbits of NEAs crosses Mars orbital path, which may cause a higher number of impact than expected

    It is far more likely, that as these particular NEAs free themselves of Jupiters pull and begin to spiral towards the Sun, will have an opportunity at a first strike capability. Sorta like a first come first serve kinda deal.

    All in all, I think its a good thing for Earth. Jupiter keeps those pesky comets and larger asteroids away from us, and Mars is like our inner defense system for those lesser known meteorites hiding in the Belt.

    Now if only we could only find a way to let just a few get by and attract themselves to the future site of the next DNC.

    Whoops. Did I just say that outloud.

    Hehe

  57. Janice Moore says:

    (mumbling to self)… hm… looks like ALL my posts this evening are invisible….. well, I’ll just try getting Alan’s attention the old fashioned way… give him a shout out…

    Alan! Alan! (with musical interlude) Alan!

    ….hm… maybe he can’t hear me… sitting over at that friend’s house yelling about all the Envirostalinists in Congress, I’ll bet…

    #(:))

  58. @Janice Moore

    I had a friend share that video on my timeline just a few days ago,
    Its hilarious.
    BTW, I know you your comment wasn’t directed at me, but my name is also Alan.
    So you did get Alans attention, even if it wasn’t the Alan you were hoping for. :D

  59. stikes says:

    There is no upper limit to these events – the odds that sooner or later, the Earth shall be struck by a dinosaur killer or worse., resulting in an explosion of thousands or even 10s of thousands of megatons of explosive force..

    And we’re frittering away our resources stressing about a half degree bump in global temperature? FFS., what will it take to wake us up, as a species? the loss of a few cities? Or are we simply too stupid to survive?

  60. Janice Moore says:

    Alan!

    Thank you, SO MUCH, (even if it was the “wrong” Alan) for telling me that (glad you think it’s hilarious, too — I LOVE those animals talking vids… “Nighttime… daytime…. nighttime… daytime…” LOLOLOL). It is such a BUMMER to have zero acknowledgement of what one writes all evening long — esp. shout outs. This week, I’ve already struck out! Knoebel, Smith, and Robertson, — ack — plus an extra strike for good measure! — and McClenney.

    You may not have been the Alan I hoped for, but you are the Alan I am VERY GRATEFUL FOR.

    Thanks!

    Janice

    P.S. While I am not Keith Minto (hope HE shows up, headshake), I found your post to him highly informative (and loved the last line, lol,… if only……. except,…. I think, at this point, about 90% of them are on the road to He11, so, I really wouldn’t want that to happen)

  61. William McClenney says:

    Janice,

    I always ponder your thoughts. Long ago I was a tarheel. I don’t hold that against myself. Stay skeptical my friend……

    William

  62. @ Janice Moore

    Glad to be of service!

    Yeah, that last line was my poor attempt at political satire.

    I really do try to refrain from that sort of thing and stick to the science, but
    my daily rounds of travelling to closed-minded pro-agw web sites put me in a bit of snit.

    I wouldn’t fret the reply time though. Bloggin aint like FB.
    There’s no pokin/sharing/taggin to be had.
    Now I know WUWT has a FB page, but I might have visited that page once maybe, like 2 years ago, :D
    See ya around Janice :)
    (I do like how at the end of that video, the rodent ends up yelling for Steve!)
    Good Day !

  63. Gunga Din says:

    I assume Curiosity isn’t close enough to investigate?
    Perhaps a future orbiter could be equipped with a “simple” rover that would stay with the orbiter until something like this that is worth a closer look then landed?

  64. mpainter says:

    an asteroid is not a meteorite and this was a meteorite- the crater could have been made by a meteorite 2 feet in diameter if it were traveling fast enough. Let’s keep the terminology straight and not confuse asteroids with other things.

  65. Zeke says:

    “A dramatic, fresh impact crater dominates this image taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Nov. 19, 2013. Researchers used HiRISE to examine this site because the orbiter’s Context Camera had revealed a change in appearance here between observations in July 2010 and May 2012, bracketing the formation of the crater between those observations.”

    We have three satellites in orbit around Mars, and two rovers. We have cause to be truly proud of that, and of noticing this fresh impact, but it would have thrown up a lot of dust, and made a tremendous infrasound racket, so I am disappointed that this event was missed until now. There is another expected incomer in late 2014. NASA needs to get the blinkers off and listen, then look in all wavelengths, including x- and gamma rays.

    The bullet analogy does not work. Look at the peaks within the crater. Theory says it is like a drop in water, melted and frozen in place with the rebounding water surface. And yet all rocky collisions with the planets or asteroids, which have been witnessed, show disintegration with high energy flashes before the impact.

  66. Duster says:

    Jason Calley says:
    February 5, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    @ Eric Worall “There is no upper limit to these events – the odds that sooner or later, the Earth shall be struck by a dinosaur killer or worse, ”

    I can very confidently predict that the Earth will NOT be struck by another dinosaur killer.

    Not unless we find some more dinosaurs somewhere. :)

    Jack Horner wants to retroengineer dinosaurs from birds. If he’s successful, ….

  67. Jeff Alberts says:

    That was no asteroid! That was a handful of Seahawks Blue Skittles thrown by Beast Mode himself during the Super Bowl 48 Victory Parade!

  68. Dudley Horscroft says:

    ClimateForAll says:
    February 5, 2014 at 9:57 pm
    “It is far more likely, that as these particular NEAs free themselves of Jupiters pull and begin to spiral towards the Sun, will have an opportunity at a first strike capability. Sorta like a first come first serve kinda deal.

    All in all, I think its a good thing for Earth. Jupiter keeps those pesky comets and larger asteroids away from us, and Mars is like our inner defense system for those lesser known meteorites hiding in the Belt.”

    If a NEA frees itself from Jupiter, why should it spiral towards the Sun? On being ejected from Jupiter or its environs, it will have a certain amount of potential and kinetic energy, which together will determine its future orbit. This must necessarily be some sort of ellipse. Only on the most unlikely situation will it head for the Sun. Almost by definition, not a spiral.

    Check the numbers of the Jovian family of comets. The possibility is that they are either ejected from Jupiter from time to time, or have been captured somehow by Jupiter’s gravity and turned into a Jovian comet. There are quite a lot of Jovian comets, and I have seen comments that there are far too many to have been captured by Jupiter, given the number of comets from outside the Jovian orbit that pass close to Jupiter. Then again, if they spend their time inside the orbit of Jupiter, they are in the area where much of their mass will boil off each time they pass perihelion. Unless in a near circular orbit, this means that their life is limited. Calculations indicate that the numbers of Jovian comets should be decreasing, giving the logical conclusion that some time ago there were a lot more.

    Certainly Mars may catch a few comets, but given the size of the planet and its orbit, it would not catch too many.

    Most people would never have seen a comet, unless they were told exactly where to look with binoculars, I have only seen the one (apart from a very hazy fuzz, supposed to be Halley’s Comet), although that was truly remarkable with a length about 20 degrees, and brilliant. Only visible for a couple of days, I think, then it moved to the sunny side of the earth and was lost to sight. From my records this could only have been in the period May 62 to July 63, or Jan to Mar 65, but time of day probably 0000 to 0400 for the first period and 0400 to 0500 (both local time) for the second period, when viewed from the western Indian Ocean.. If anyone can identify this comet and the actual date of its best visibility I would be grateful.

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