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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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.

Jimmy Haigh

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

Sacred Cow

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

John M

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?

anna v

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.

Back2Bat

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).

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.

David in Davis

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

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!

John Phillips

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.

For those of you who are afraid of CO², check this out:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/19787482@N04/3686859809/
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?

Back2Bat

“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.

Steve Reynolds

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

Martin Brumby

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).

DaveF

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.

wws

The big asteroids only hit about once every 67 million years.
oops, times up!!!

A.Syme

It’s the unknown unknown’s that will reach down and bite us. Maybe even ruin our whole day!

Oliver Ramsay

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.

kim

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

kim

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

Methow Ken

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/

DaveF

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.

John

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.”

John

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

Thanks for this info. Pols and sheeple are like deer, they never look for a threat from above. I used your post to dust off an old one of mine: http://elementsofpower.blogspot.com/2006/11/killer-asteroids-and-risk-management.html

Ralph

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.

Ray

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.

Hans Kelp

A good one, Ray. Refreshing thinking. I´m with you. Thank you.

philw1776

“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.

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.

>>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.

SSam

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.

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.

Douglas DC

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..

brazil84

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.

Mike McMillan

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.

David Ball

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.

George Varros

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.

helvio

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.

AnonyMoose

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.

Carlos

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.

Roddy Baird

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.

[snip]

tallbloke

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’

G. Karst

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.

Glenn

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.

[SNIP]

Glenn

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.

[snip]

Glenn

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”?