Bigger problems than global warming – NASA discovers 8 new dangerous near Earth asteroids

Guest essay by Eric Worrall-

The Chelyabinsk meteor, possibly caused by a near Earth Asteroid

In 2013, NASA decided to take time out from creating spectacularly useless climate models, and reactivated their Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer programme. The result is moderately terrifying – 8 previously unknown near Earth asteroids with catastrophic impact potential have been discovered, along with a host of smaller bodies which have the potential to wipe out a city.

According to The Register;

In December 2013, NASA re-activated the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) and in the twelve months since the project discovered three new comets and 40 previously-unknown near-earth objects, eight of which have Earth-bonking potential.

The JPL website contains more information about the discoveries of various space survey projects;

“WISE was launched into a low-Earth orbit in December 2009, and surveyed the full sky in four infrared wavelength bands (3.4, 4.6, 12 and 22 µm) with a 40 cm (16 in) diameter infrared telescope until the frozen hydrogen cooling the telescope was depleted in September 2010. Throughout this time, NEOWISE searched the WISE data for moving objects. Starting in October 2010, the mission was renamed NEOWISE, and the survey continued for an additional four months using the two shortest wavelength detectors. The spacecraft was placed into hibernation in February 2011, after completing its search of the inner solar system.

Recently, NEOWISE has been brought out of hibernation to learn more about the population of near-Earth objects and comets that could pose an impact hazard to the Earth. A three-year survey in the 3.4 and 4.6 µm infrared bands began in December 2013 in which NEOWISE will rapidly characterize near-Earth objects (NEOs) and obtain accurate measurements of their diameters and albedos (how much light an object reflects). NEOWISE is equally sensitive to both light-colored asteroids and the optically dark objects that are difficult for ground-based observers to discover and characterize. Just six days after the restart of the survey, NEOWISE discovered its first potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroid, 2013 YP139.

The JPL data table is a little tricky to read, but if I’ve understood it correctly, you take the “H” value (absolute magnitude – a measure of “brightness”) from the asteroid table , and look up that value in the diameter conversion chart, to get a range of possible diameters . The diameter estimate is a range, because the size of the asteroid is not the only factor which affects the magnitude / brightness of the object.

YP139 has a “H” value of 21.6, which corresponds to a possible diameter of 130 – 300 metres.

To put this into perspective, the Chelyabinsk meteor which caused a 500 kiloton explosion over Russia in 2013 was estimated to be around 20 metres in diameter. A 300 metre object has the potential to cause (300 ^ 3 / 20 ^ 3) * 500 kilotons = 1.6 Gigaton explosion. An explosion of this magnitude, especially an ocean strike, could create gigantic Tsunamis, and would severely disrupt the global climate for several years, possibly longer.

Its nice to know that NASA occasionally takes a break from climate bothering, long enough to do something space related, but I’m mildly horrified that a project this important appears to be so far down the list of priorities, that the project was mothballed for a year while the survey satellite stood waiting for a refuel. Granted that a major Asteroid strike is a low probability event, but the consequences are potentially catastrophic – a big ocean strike could kill millions, maybe even billions of people.

As the Chelyabinsk wakeup call demonstrated, the risk of a damaging meteor impact is not a possibility which should be neglected.


Addendum- For the record, there are currently 1533 potentially hazardous near Earth Asteroids -Anthony

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January 19, 2015 4:07 am

Chelyabinsk was the last time a significant hit occurred. Given the lack of reporting capabilities before the 20th century (much of the oceans would not have been noted except anecdotally), I wonder the frequency of rocks of that size entering the atmosphere. They are not planet killers, but they do tend to wilt the Sunflowers.

Reply to  philjourdan
January 19, 2015 11:59 am

“Chelyabinsk was the last time a significant hit occurred.”
Wasn’t there a suspected meteorite impact crater in East Antarctica?
How did that sneak in? Seems something that big should have made a big boom?

Reply to  Paul
January 20, 2015 4:43 am

I saw that (thanks to those who did the leg work) after I posted my comment. From what I have read, it may have been as big.

Reply to  Paul
January 20, 2015 8:15 am

And just last year there was this, on the military base just west of the airport in Managua. 😉

Reply to  philjourdan
January 19, 2015 1:02 pm

Raptor dinosaurs should be the ones setting NASA’s objectives, not humans.

Reply to  emsnews
January 20, 2015 8:17 am

Wait, what? Was that a Saint’s Row IV reference?

Old Bloke
January 19, 2015 4:13 am

“near-Earth objects (NEOs) and obtain accurate measurements of their diameters and albedos (how much light an object reflects).”
Are albedos like libidos? I put out more light as libido increases though I don’t think it would blow a 2 amp fuse. Good to see that NASA is doing something useful.

George Tetley
January 19, 2015 4:16 am

Hibernation ?
attention NASA this is a wake-up call for Buck Rogers, Hello anyone out there , Buck, answer us, please ?

Reply to  George Tetley
January 19, 2015 4:51 am

“Biggybiggybiggy hi there Buck”

Reply to  wickedwenchfan
January 19, 2015 6:42 am

You two talk to Buck. I’ll debrief Wilma.

Reply to  wickedwenchfan
January 19, 2015 12:01 pm

“I’ll debrief Wilma.”
Had to look that one up, good call on your part!

January 19, 2015 4:16 am

I agree the Earth is being struck by debris all the time. The velocities involved in these collisions means the objects don’t have to be that big to cause some serious damage with the caveat of surviving entry into the Earth’s atmosphere of course.

Reply to  Julian
January 19, 2015 8:49 am

The problem is air bursts, not ground impact. That research came out of the Jupiter impacts and Tunguska and the recent Russian meteor.

Reply to  sunshinehours1
January 19, 2015 10:28 am

I’ve always been curious about air bursts. It seems to me the center would be maintained at a relatively stable and low temperature by ablative cooling, similar to the burning of the heat shield on the Apollo capsules. I’m obviously wrong about it. Anyone know why?

Reply to  sunshinehours1
January 19, 2015 4:23 pm

Those heat shields are designed of insulative materials such as cork

Reply to  sunshinehours1
January 19, 2015 6:11 pm

–I’ve always been curious about air bursts. It seems to me the center would be maintained at a relatively stable and low temperature by ablative cooling, similar to the burning of the heat shield on the Apollo capsules. I’m obviously wrong about it. Anyone know why?–
Well rocks hit earth faster than Apollo. Or for rocks to hit Earth at same velocity as Apollo
the rocks would need to start out within Earth-Moon system [which is possible- but very rare].
Instead what rocks are doing is encountering a Earth in a orbit around the sun, and Earth orbital
velocity is 29.8 km/sec. As a comparison Earth escape velocity is 11.18 km/sec. Or nothing within Earth-moon system will be going faster than 11 km/sec in terms hitting earth.
So briefly the average impact speed of asteroids which have orbits near Earth [or not comets] is
around 20 km/sec. Or twice velocity of Apollo Command Module hitting Earth. And with comets is in neighborhood of 40 km/sec.
Or another way to say this is that the gravity well of Earth is not really involved with rocks hitting Earth, rather Earth is like moving target in a gun range [one can almost ignore Earth’s gravity and it’s two very high velocity object intersecting each other- with tens of thousands of these objects which at some point in their year which is crossing earth’s orbital path].
So rocks are going at speed which Apollo capsule could not survive. Second capsules are aimed so they intersect Earth’s atmosphere at about 10 degree angle [from a horizontal plane], which allow the gee load not to be as severe [and for it not to get as hot- or get warm for longer duration]. So if Apollo approach Earth at steeper angle the gee forces it would resemble a car accident. Or it would kill the crew- btw, nukes can survive such gee loads and do have a steeper re-entry.
So rocks have far higher velocity, are far more massive, and not designed to withstand high gees.
And the air burst is where the rock deforms/breaks due to gee loads and become a bigger cross section and in the denser atmosphere and the atmosphere acts more a wall than air- or it violently explodes.
And bigger rock [say 100 meters] can essential ignore the atmosphere as they far greater mass
and need surface like the ground or ocean to stop them [and explode at that point].
So whether air burst or surface strike one dealing with explosion similar to nuclear weapon.

Reply to  sunshinehours1
January 20, 2015 7:23 am

Thank you for that most excellent explanation!

January 19, 2015 4:19 am

Some years ago I saw a youtube video- someone was filming around dusk, and in the film, something bright and looking fairly Large, could be seen streaking along the sky for a few moments, before it apparently BOUNCED off the atmosphere.
I really do think there is more of a threat from space, than there is from CO2.

Reply to  Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)
January 19, 2015 4:50 am

I think the one you are talking about was filmed in the 70’s or 80’s on a beach. Yeah, if it is the same one, I recall that being shown on TV.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
Reply to  Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)
January 19, 2015 5:15 am

I remember this in the 1970s…look at the speed of it!

and this

Reply to  The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
January 19, 2015 10:18 am

Meteor Hits Russia Feb 15, 2013

Feb 15,2013 – A “small” meteorite streaked through the skies above Russia’s Urals region. The blast, equivalent to 300,000 tons of TNT, shattered windows, damaged more than 3,000 building and injured over 1,000 people.

Brad Rich
Reply to  The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
January 21, 2015 7:45 am

I witnessed the Teton Fireball in August 1972. NASA has a tail on several NEOs but they can’t predict all of them. Some asteroids might not be in orbit, headed in a collision course from parts unknown in the galaxy. They use the known asteroids to keep the funding coming, along with the threat of the unknown. That’s their job, ambulance chasers at NASA/GISS/NOAA,

Reply to  Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)
January 19, 2015 9:53 pm

It didn’t bounce, it was merely going fast enough to maintain escape velocity during its brief visit.

D.J. Hawkins
Reply to  Ric Werme
January 20, 2015 1:13 pm

The object under discussion may not have “bounced”, but it can happen if the trajectory is at a sufficiently shallow angle. For manned vehicles there is a window for proper angle of reentry; too shallow, say hello to Mars; too steep and they can name the impact crater after you.

M Courtney
January 19, 2015 4:19 am

Granted that a major Asteroid strike is a low probability event, but the consequences are potentially catastrophic – a big ocean strike could kill millions, maybe even billions of people.

Low Probability and High Impact… so what to do?
It depends on the cost of mitigation.
Er… what mitigation? Send Bruce Willis up on a space shuttle.?
It’s interesting but not practical.

A C Osborn
Reply to  M Courtney
January 19, 2015 4:32 am

That should say “It’s interesting but not practical at the moment”.
Where there is the will there is a way.
Landing a craft on a Comet has already been achieved, (not by the USA), but planning is required well ahead of it becoming dangerously close to the Earth.

Reply to  A C Osborn
January 19, 2015 1:46 pm

Yes, you are right.
I was in a negative mood this morning after a 2 and half hour commute.
We could do it if we tried. (At least us Europeans, ahem).
But it still depends on the cost of mitigation.

Reply to  M Courtney
January 19, 2015 5:14 am

Deflecting a small asteroid is perfectly possible, even with existing technology, provided it is discovered early enough.
There is even (at least) two possible techniques. Using ion-powered “gravity-tug” spacecraft. Safe and certain but quite slow. And using small nuclear charges to ablate one side of the asteroid and deflecting it by recoil. Fast but messy and with a distinct risk that the asteroid would break up.
Remember that the maximun distance a potentialy Earth-impacting bodies would ever need to be deflected is c. 6500 km, and usually a lot less. if you do it ten years in advance that requires a delta-vee of about 21 mm/s (or about 0.8 inches/second)

Julian Flood
Reply to  tty
January 19, 2015 9:01 am

There’s an attempt to address this problem in one of my kindle short story collections — Hittile — but it was really just an excuse to run through a few drive options., pulse nuke, steam rocket and laser parachute. You sprint out using a series of nukes behind a pusher pate and use the kinetic energy — much more energy than a single bomb could produce — to smash the threat to gravel.
I enjoyed it. Couldn’t sell it though.

Reply to  tty
January 19, 2015 3:06 pm

Ion-powered “gravity-tug. Great idea, I will just nip down to Kmart and buy one.

Reply to  tty
January 19, 2015 5:26 pm

@Julian Flood, 9:01 AM The pulsed nuclear powered spacecraft was Project Orion, an ARPA/NASA project from early ’60s. See

Reply to  tty
January 19, 2015 7:20 pm

Hit it with a 20 megaton nuke and all of the mass would be delta-veed big time. An impacting mass has to hit a very tiny keyhole to hit the Earth.
Like blowing up a conventional bomb 10 miles about it’s target, not much shrapnel would actually hit the target..
A second and third strike would handle any mass still on trajectory for Earth.
I’ve always thought immediately rejection of anything useful regarding nukes to be more political than scientific.

Joseph Murphy
Reply to  M Courtney
January 19, 2015 9:41 am

If we spot a large object headed for earth and have some time to think, I am sure a lot more things become practical. Also, I don’t like the vague, blanket statements on probability. A large impact is a near gaurantee. It is low probability for any given day.

Reply to  Joseph Murphy
January 19, 2015 5:28 pm

Assume the position, Explore the inner self. 😉

Tom Billings
Reply to  M Courtney
January 22, 2015 8:14 pm

Mitigation must take place years ahead of collision for any sizable object. That means we have to be looking all around. At present, we cannot look at all close to the Sun. So, the Aten/Ra class asteroids come at us “out of the sun”, with a few hours notice, at best. To find these the needed years ahead of time, we require a facility looking outwards from nearer the Sun, to see the reflected visible and infrared signatures of these bodies. Then, we need equipment already in orbit at the L4 and L5 libration points to start moving towards an intercept. From there several techniques exist, from nuclear/X-ray flash bombs, to simple attraction by the gravitational mass of a large spacecraft, that will provide the Delta-V to make the body miss the Earth.

January 19, 2015 4:29 am

That is a stunningly beautiful image – where’s it from please (image credits)?

January 19, 2015 4:34 am

Not much point spending billions detecting them when we have zero abity to stop them and can’t predict where they will strike until it’s too late to evacuate. The space missions would still be cool, if NASA didn’t approach them as if here too the “science is settled”. We’ve got up close to four separate comets now and every one of them looks like a lump of rock, but rather than re evaluate the theories (especially in regards to E=MC2! E can be used to change M just as well as the reverse) they keep on with the “dirty snowball” theory.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  wickedwenchfan
January 19, 2015 5:33 am

I believe the ultimate idea is to be able to divert them if large, or break them if smaller or give time to get off the sea which has the highest probability of being ground zero. If you do detect them far enough away, you don’t have to move them by much. A million miles out (1.6million km) – not far in this business – a nudge of 1/4 of a degree would do the job (change its course to miss ~7,000km). The radius of the earth is ~6400km. Predicting where they would strike ultimately is also possible. Hey they predicted where they could put space vehicles into position to land in a small targeted area. I’m sure they would eventually put instrumentation on them to keep updating its trajectory. Re size and frequency NASA has a page:
Scroll down to size and frequency. One the size of a car enters earth’s atmosphere every year and burns up, one the the size of a football field ~100m about every 2000 years, one big enough to threaten earth’s civilization occurs ~ every few million years (larger than a mile or more in diameter (~2km)). So civilization has never had to deal with one – it is a challenge for the future. Even though civilization’s worth threat comes from ideologue elitists. it IS worth doing.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
January 19, 2015 3:29 pm

Except, there is that nagging suspicion that a near miss sling shots the object off on a new trajectory. A trajectory with Earth as the primary barycentric coordinate for the object’s new orbit…
If they’re going to ‘nudge’ them; I’d be much happier that they ‘nudge’ the objects towards the giant planets or the sun. Or if they’re really really good at nudging, nudge the object into a concentric low orbit around the Earth so it can be mined.

Reply to  wickedwenchfan
January 19, 2015 1:26 pm

Not much point? Well, if it’s far enough away from impact, I’d say putting an extra few km between me and where it’s headed would be really, really nice. If it’s headed for the ocean, even an hour’s notice would allow coastal evacuations. Duh. NASA, do your 🂮🂾🃎🃞 job and cut out the climatastrophist propaganda.

DC Cowboy
January 19, 2015 4:36 am

Reading the article I was struck by this statement about the new mission, “… and space rocks that might one day be captured for transport closer to Earth.”
The article doesn’t seem to have any reference to this mission that I could find as to the purpose of capturing near earth rocks, but, the idea is intriguing. If you could capture an object big enough and park it in one of the Lagrange points, we cold hollow it out and use it as a permanent ‘space base’. Then again the thought of a 50 meter or larger sized object careening out of a Lagrange point and slamming into earth is disturbing, although it would make one heck of a weapon ;).

Reply to  DC Cowboy
January 19, 2015 1:05 pm

Welcome to the L-5 Society. We tried and tried to interest everyone in space colonies and it ended up dead. Who will do this now? The US is too addled.

Reply to  emsnews
January 19, 2015 3:51 pm

Oh it’s still going to happen, but the original 1989 Integrated Space Plan of 1989 was waaay too optimistic with an L1 Earth Moon Libration Point Interplanetary Arrival – Departure Spaceport to become operational about now….

Reply to  emsnews
January 19, 2015 6:10 pm

I remember a book about L5 and space based solar energy collection/transmission to Earth. I bought a half a dozen copies and handed them out to members of congress back in the lat 1970s, total waste.
What is really needed is a REAL Truespace drive. Roman Candles will never work, too expensive and dangerous. pg

Reply to  emsnews
January 20, 2015 2:54 pm

Thanks for this L5 Society mention (and the follow up bits this leads to)!
I – like everyone here, I guess – continue to live and learn.
Even our trolls seem to learn.
The Stanford Torus looks intriguing – although a little claustrophobic in its smaller forms.

January 19, 2015 4:37 am

I think the explosive power of the Chelyabinsk meteor had been reanalyzed to be something like 330 kilotons.

Stephen Richards
Reply to  beng1
January 19, 2015 4:48 am

Still a guess based on damage and damage is a fickle thing. Building quality; height from ground, distance horizontally, brightness of object, speed of entry, temperature of atmosphere and so on.

January 19, 2015 4:38 am

We need an Asteroid tax to pay for mitigation. I’ll look after the cash till it’s needed.
I know it’s a tough job but someone has to do it. (8<))

Reply to  1saveenergy
January 19, 2015 12:11 pm

Can we have conferences in exotic location to discuss the plans?
I’m in, just don’t mess with the Peruvian monuments.

Reply to  1saveenergy
January 19, 2015 3:35 pm

I’d be thrilled to be a member of your cash ‘watching’ team! I can log the near misses…
Wouldn’t we need a ‘big’ telescope to get an ‘eyes on’ confirmation?
The Hawaii volcanic chain has lots of tall mountains, we could locate the telescope on top of one.
I suppose we could also track CO2 as a backup to the official observatory… (Wouldn’t that set the cat amongst the CO2 pigeons?) ;>

Reply to  ATheoK
January 19, 2015 5:37 pm

An observatory will also be needed in the Southern Hemisphere. The Mendoza region is high and dry with great powder and steep chutes. I will be happy to be the project manager for the Mendoza Asteriod Spotting, Surveylance and Skiing Center.

Reply to  1saveenergy
January 20, 2015 10:32 am

Heh, the same thought crossed my mind. Do they think that it’s time to get out of Climate Change and buy into Asteroids?

January 19, 2015 4:43 am

I’ll see yer one planetary boundary and raise yer four!
Must be grants submission time again.

Scottish Sceptic
January 19, 2015 4:43 am

NASA discovers another 8 reasons (after Ozone scare, CO2 scare, global cooling scare and probably dozens of other such hoax scares) … for the gullible US taxpayer to fund them even more money.
They didn’t employ Hansen by mistake!

Scottish Sceptic
Reply to  Scottish Sceptic
January 19, 2015 4:47 am

Nor would the moon landing “conspiracy” be cited so frequently without it being the ideal way to attack anyone (i.e. republican) who got onto the scent and dared to question NASA’s integrity!

January 19, 2015 4:49 am

I think there is a better and less hysterical source for information about the risk of asteroid or meteor strikes – – I suggest you stick to commentary about climate projections.

Reply to  Bill Cameron
January 19, 2015 1:14 pm

My son (6) and I check the site regularly and play with the interactive diagrams. Its a cool site and yes, not very sensational 🙂

January 19, 2015 4:54 am

They probably see global warming alarmism as coming to an end. They have to diversify their portfolios for more funding. And who can watch asteroids better than NASA. Yes Liars make people cynical.

Bloke down the pub
January 19, 2015 4:54 am

And there’s still a strong possibility that, like the Chelyabinsk meteor, when something comes it will arrive unannounced.

Reply to  Bloke down the pub
January 19, 2015 1:33 pm

Right now, yes. With proper planning and the right equipment, we’d have up to several days’ notice, enough for evacuation of the area or affected coasts.

Reply to  jorgekafkazar
January 20, 2015 2:25 pm

Evacuation of a major metropolitan area would take more than several days, even if the roads where all lanes-out-bound. Traffic bogs down when everyone is nice and calm, so imagine the situation with a half-km rock bearing down…

January 19, 2015 4:55 am

“Addendum- For the record, there are currently 1533 potentially hazardous near Earth Asteroids”
It would only take one of sufficient size to wipe out all higher forms of life on the planet. If the governments have money to waste on researching and combating the non-existent threat of AGW, which is only a gradual non-existent threat (apologies for the oxymoron) anyway, then why not spend that money on devising better detection and a strategy for dealing with an actual threat! I realise that the odds of such an event occurring are next to negligible but……

Reply to  andrewmharding
January 19, 2015 9:56 am

don’t give THEM ideas. “They” are already looking for the next biggy to convince us rubes that the only answer is to form a World Government and give them all our money.

Dodgy Geezer
January 19, 2015 4:58 am

…Granted that a major Asteroid strike is a low probability event…
I would guess that the probability is now about the same as the climate warming scare being correct.
Only difference is, the probability of an asteroid strike goes UP for every day one doesn’t happen, while the probability that Hansen, Mann et al are right goes DOWN…

Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
January 19, 2015 5:19 am

“I would guess that the probability is now about the same as the climate warming scare being correct.”
Contrariwise. It is dead certain to happen. It has happened thousands of times in the past (while catastrophic global warming never has, as far as we can judge).

Mac the Knife
Reply to  tty
January 19, 2015 11:14 am

Spot On!

Reply to  tty
January 20, 2015 3:06 pm

Catastrophic global warming certainly has happened.
It was one factor (our ancestors were another) that wiped out much of the American megafauna 10-15 thousand years ago [and, yes, there probably were other factors, if of lesser weight].
Catastrophic Man-made global warming – ahh. I’ll have to ask the 8-ball on that!
Catastrophic Mann-made global warming – that has cost a shedload [PJ O’Rourke’s ‘more money than you can shake a stick at, plus the stick”] to tax payers, electricity consumers – and, worst, many millions – probably hundreds of millions – in the Third World, whose deprivation has been extended by a few watermelons seeking to be able to pay for (Note – not ‘EARN’) another house in another continent.
And, as noted, do be aware that another source of funding is soon going to be critically important for Watermelon Central.
[Were not those losses of large land animals over a very short period of time an example of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Fauning? .mod]

Steve from Rockwood
January 19, 2015 5:07 am

The Earth is in danger from inner planetary hemorrhoids (climate scientists) and outer planetary asteroids. Lucky we have all this grant money to keep these dangers in check.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
January 19, 2015 5:10 am

We are overdue a decent-sized one. There was Tunguska, and another (I think in 1947). It’s always a matter of when, not if. People go about their lives in blissful ignorance of how a populated part of the world could be sent back to the Middle Ages in a second.

Reply to  The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
January 19, 2015 7:07 am

South America in the 1930s IIRC Jim.
The bottom line is that with 2 Megaton grade strikes over land in the 20th Century, anyone who thinks they might be “rare” has rocks in their head. On the figures (granted a short baseline) we get a City Killer every 35 years or so, it’s only pure blind luck that we haven’t lost a city yet.
Water strikes are more dangerous but we might at least get some warning and evacuate some people from coastal cities. My nightmare is a strike in somewhere like the Mediterranean. Very, very bad.

Reply to  JohnB
January 20, 2015 5:39 am

“On the figures (granted a short baseline) we get a City Killer every 35 years or so, it’s only pure blind luck that we haven’t lost a city yet.”
No, it’s the fact that cities make up a tiny fraction of the surface of the planet. We should expect to see hundreds or thousands of Tunguska-style events for every one that destroys a city.
As with ‘Global Warming’, doing anything about it today other than monitoring local space would be paying far more for insurance than the potential loss. In fifty years, when we can launch stuff into space for $10 a pound, maybe trying to deflect one would make sense.

Reply to  JohnB
January 20, 2015 3:09 pm


January 19, 2015 5:13 am

Some seem to think that there is nothing we can do and we don’t have the technology to do anything.
You are wrong.
It is true that if we detect something that is going to hit in the next few years then there is little we can do, but beyond that we can.
The more time we have to act the less we have to do. You don’t have to obliterate the asteroid, you simply have to deflect it and this can be done by something as simple as changing the albedo on one side and letting the light from the Sun change its orbit.

Reply to  TerryS
January 20, 2015 10:22 am

So changing albedo will work when the object is tumbling?

Just an engineer
Reply to  TomB
January 20, 2015 10:59 am

Sorry TomB, didn’t see your post.

Just an engineer
Reply to  TerryS
January 20, 2015 10:57 am

Umm, I’m thinking they probably rotate.

Leo Smith
January 19, 2015 5:25 am

Notwithstanding argument over exactly how big a bang any asteroid might make, its instructive to look at the magnitude of the largest H bomb detonations and what is in yer common or garden earthquake or volcanic eruption.
Lets assume 1GT gives you the earthquake and some volcano data.
Valdiva 2.7 Gt. Not planet destroying at all. Death rate estimated in the 1-10,000 range, property damage between $1bn and $10bn in today’s money.
Krakatoa in the ball park of an order of magnitude,. and not a planet destroying event, though caused a lot of death due to ‘years without summers’ etc.
Alongside those really the largest nuke ever to pop its clogs was the Tsar Bomba at a puny 59 megatons.
The more gloomy anti-nuclear sites posit around a total of 6 GT of nuclear weaponry extant worldwide.
Scenarios involving them all being detonated together in one place are essentially fantasy.
Few weapons have been developed to go larger than 1Mt per warhead – what’s the point?
The tsunami that messed with Japan in 2011 was 480 Mt estimated, on the sea bed and close to Japan. Extremely bad luck to get that combination.
In a similar vein, it would be extremely unfortunate for e.g. the main heavily populated/developed areas of the planet to get a big hot rock dropped on their heads. The east/west coasts of the USA,. Europe, or India/China would suffer greatly, but the most likely event is into or over wilderness or sea.
If you look at the megadeath scenarios it would have to be
– a bloody large rock
– more or less a direct hit or at least a good graze through the atmosphere
– happen in a very highly populated, or geologically sensitive, area.
In geological time of course such things have happened – a few times. In human history it’s hard to say though the general regard for comets as objects of ill-omen (and a meteorite looks a bit like a comet) does suggest it was not unknown. Great place for the tinfoil hatters to speculate.
Its probably worth spending a billion to avoid ten billion damage, but to try and avoid an Chicxulub type event?
Forget it. It would guarantee to destroy the world economically to build the technology to do it.
We all simply relocate to high ground, create a lot of tinned food, batten down the hatches, cross our fingers and hope there is something left. By random chance something would be.
Oddly enough IF catastrophic AGW were anything like an unrefuted hypothesis it would actually be a greater threat.
But of course its more or less been proved to be about as likley as a ‘nuclear winter’.
It suits too many people’s books to have doom and FUD about, for any rational estimates, but they are possible.
I suggest people do them.
We have nothing to fear but fear itself, by and large.

Reply to  Leo Smith
January 19, 2015 7:28 am

Something to think on Leo. A meteor is not like a comet in a very important feature, it has no tail outside the atmosphere and therefore gives no warning.
Because of orbital physics and the fact that the comet tail always points away from the Sun an incoming comet is visible and you get some warning. but there’s a part of this that people don’t actually think about. If a comet hits us on the way in the head leads the tail but if it hits on the way out the tail leads the impact.
Imagine what that would look like to a primitive people. The comet has been in the sky for perhaps months growing brighter as it got closer and then it recedes, possibly even visible in the daytime sky until it nears the Sun. And then it comes back, faint at first but brighter and brighter every night. The tail growing longer and brighter until it cuts the sky in half, wavering like a giant serpent in the sky. Take a while to really think about it, imagine what it would look like, and then remember that all cultures on this planet have legends of great flying lizards or snakes who bring destruction.
No tinfoil needed at all.

Reply to  JohnB
January 19, 2015 12:23 pm

Dinosaur fossils also explain the “dragon” legends and descriptions: They match all of the words, and (obviously) they match the writhing bone structure and skulls needed. A culture built on sword and hammer violence and daily butchering of livestock for food “knows” what to expect within an animal (bones, skulls, muscles, legs, wings, eyes, etc. So, evidence overhead (flying lights and visions) plus bones in the ground? What’s not to like about What’s Up With That?

Fred Harwood
January 19, 2015 5:32 am

Is this like “Oh, Look! A squirrel!”

Reply to  Fred Harwood
January 19, 2015 5:48 am

More like “Oh, Look! A Unicorn in the shape of an Asteroid!”

Reply to  Fred Harwood
January 19, 2015 9:45 am

Interesting coincidence.
Today’s xkcd

January 19, 2015 5:45 am

IPCC soon to become ‘Intergovernmental Pandemonium for Colliding Comet’.
CAGW is now ‘Catastrophic Asteroid Guzzles World’. Now that WILL be an inconvenient truth . . . .
If and when one strikes, NASA might immediately become ‘National . . . . Arghhhh . . . . Shit . . . . Asteroid!!!!
I’ll get my coat . . . .

Alberta Slim
Reply to  GeeJam
January 19, 2015 7:10 am

Your last line about the coat is the best……………….

January 19, 2015 5:57 am

Lets get the IPCC to issue a report on this asap. I imagine an asteroid would affect the climate and asteroid paths can be modeled after all.

January 19, 2015 6:00 am

Just enough time to rummage through the archives chaps-

January 19, 2015 6:19 am

Wonder how many more near Earth asteroids NASA Would have discovered if they had spent the money they wasted on the Global Warming SCAM looking for these potentially far more hazardous and life threating objects?

January 19, 2015 6:24 am

One note here. By definition the Russian bolide was a Near Earth Object, not possibly one.

Reply to  denniswingo
January 19, 2015 11:37 am

I was trying to think of your name. How did the satellite “re-tasking” go (I have not seen an update, but I may have missed it)?

Reply to  Patrick
January 21, 2015 9:23 am

We recovered the spacecraft, recommissioned the instruments, but the nitrogen pressuring in the propulsion system was depleted, keeping us from capturing the spacecraft into Earth Orbit. It will return again in seven years.

January 19, 2015 6:27 am

The only practical way to divert these is with H-bombs but this isn’t even considered for political reasons. An H-bomb has never even been test exploded in space and is, in fact, illegal.

Jim Clarke
Reply to  tabnumlock
January 19, 2015 10:00 am

I don’t think the space police would arrest anyone if we used H-bombs to deflect an Earth-killing space object. If one of these objects was identified in time, and a sound plan was developed to deflect the object, but the plan was rejected for political reasons because the anti-nuk crowd complained about the dangers of launching nuclear weapons into space…well then we probably deserve to go extinct.

Richard McClellan
January 19, 2015 6:32 am

Well said.

January 19, 2015 6:37 am

We must act no! Let us spend billions each year trying to track these potential impactors. We must find ways to tackle climate changing asteroids. Insurance policy and all that blah, blah. Better safe than sorry blah, blah. Which Warmists will join me to protest at the lack of action to tackle climate changing asteroids?

January 19, 2015 6:39 am

“8 previously unknown near Earth asteroids with catastrophic impact potential have been discovered”
Hmm. Presumably the the guys with slide rules* can predict the course of these things very accurately, otherwise why bother? In which case they must know that none of these are going to hit us or they would have mentioned it. So no worries.
There is no point looking for any more unless we begin building the devices that might save us from them. Ten years advance warning that we need machines that take 11 years to develop is not much use.
*Ask your parents.

Reply to  Martin
January 19, 2015 7:09 am

They can only accurately predict where these objects are going to be for 5 to 10 years out. The problem is that no matter how accurately you can place them now, there is always a degree of error in that number. Over time that margin of error grows until it is many times larger than the diameter of the earth. We have to find these objects so that they can be monitored so that periodic updates of their future orbits can be made. Beyond that, the more observations of them we have over the years, the more accurately we can plot their future orbits.

Reply to  Martin
January 19, 2015 1:09 pm

*Ask your parents.
I still have mine (slide rule).

D.J. Hawkins
Reply to  Martin
January 20, 2015 1:36 pm

My Pickett N4-T sits in the top right hand drawer of my desk at work. My backup Log-Log DeciTrig graces my desk at home.

January 19, 2015 6:45 am

AGW is not an existential threat; these things can be (as geologic history shows). Plenty of astroblemes are visible on Google Maps (esp. in the Canadian Shield of Quebec, like Clearwater Lakes and Manicouagan). Without weathering, plate tectonics, volcanism and a lot of water, Earth would be as pock-marked as the Moon. The bigger bell-ringers can cause megatsunamis (as is suspected w/the Burckle Crater propagating across thousands of miles of coastline), earthquakes (potentially disastrous at the point exactly opposite the globe from the impact site) and obviously other nasty stuff. I have long been disappointed by the small-thinking obsession with AGW by NASA etc when a fraction of the money spent on the AGW bogeyman could greatly increase our knowledge of potential hits. We may be the first species with the potential to a) see these coming; and b) be able to nudge them out of our way. The nudge potential seems a long way in the future, but could be the greatest justification for an extended human/technology presence throughout the Solar System. Would be nice to have an option other than ‘place your head between your knees and kiss your _ss goodbye’.

Reply to  Theyouk
January 19, 2015 7:42 am

Ever noticed that the Coral Sea is a ring of islands centred on Herald Cay?

Gary Pearse
Reply to  JohnB
January 21, 2015 8:23 am

Look at the Hudson Bay coastline of Quebec – circular curves and maybe even the Gulf of Mexico (bent by plate tectonics

January 19, 2015 7:00 am

Another question is, “Would they tell us about it if they knew?” Do you tell the world that an Extinction Event is about to occur, or do you just do the usual SF scenario of “alert the important people, make secret plans to preserve knowledge, seed stock, animals, etc.” and let the hoi polloi go about their lives normally until the thing streaks across the sky?
In the movie “When Worlds Collide” there’s a scene in a swanky NYC restaurant where some of the in-the-know people are having a Last Dinner Out, and the hero lights a cigarette with a $100 bill, saying “I’ve always wanted to do that.” An elegant dowager at the next table turns up her nose at such crass goings-on, and I always thought that was an especially cruel scene. The poor old lady has led a life of ease and comfort, but you know darn well it’s going to end in desperate, hopeless terror, while these happy-go-lucky few are going to ride the big spaceship into the sky.
No guarantees there either, of course, but at least a chance, while the rest of Earth is pulverized.

Reply to  JamesS
January 20, 2015 9:25 am

funny, I did an article on this exact concept “would they tell” and the answer is clearly no.

Gary Hladik
Reply to  badger777
January 20, 2015 8:30 pm

In the film “Melancholia”, one of the main characters looks up the world-shattering collision on the internet:
At this point in the film, presumably the political elite are already on their way to Mars. 🙂

January 19, 2015 7:09 am

Satellite was not refueled, NASA can’t do that yet. Nor was the detector reloaded with hydrogen ‘coolant’. They are just using the remaining working detectors, which they could have been doing all along.

Owen in GA
Reply to  Greg
January 19, 2015 9:47 am

I know! One of the original design missions for the space shuttle that never came to pass.

January 19, 2015 7:15 am

Nasa doesn’t do spaceflight anymore. Nasa has no manned launch platforms left. Nasa is so pathetic that we have resorted to using 50 year old space junk from the russians to try and launch satellites, in which it performed about like you would expect 50 year old russian space junk to perform.
Whether its “climate change” or asteroids, all of this is just boogity-boo scaremongering to try and pretend that Nasa still has some function left which would justify all the hundreds of millions being pumped into it each year.
Abolish Nasa Now. It no longer has any real function, and it’s desperate thrashing around to try and hide that fact hurts all of us.
How often do catastrophic asteroids hit the earth? About once every 67 million years, according to the geological record. So say we’re at the end of that range, lets start really worrying about it in 100,000 years or so. Til then, how about we worry about the REAL problems we have, which everyone is scared to talk about?

Reply to  wws
January 19, 2015 4:30 pm

The periodicity of major earth impacts is indeterminate, but is probably lengthening. Asteroids can hit something else, first, and there isn’t an endless supply of them. Many of the dangerous sort have already been swept from the solar system. We have no measure of the risk.

E. Martin
January 19, 2015 7:25 am

Since asteroid collisions are potentially world ending events perhaps we should shut down space activities such as the near useless space station, meaningless human trips to Mars, etc., and use the money for protecting the world from such collisions.

Reply to  E. Martin
January 19, 2015 7:45 am

The best place to do that protecting from is a very large and very permanent space station.and defence platform. You can’t defend the planet from the bottom of a gravity well.

Julian Flood
Reply to  JohnB
January 19, 2015 9:19 am

I had a big torus with the hittile, a series of detector stations and some mega laser platforms as part of a safety system, all in orbit. IIRC the Rough Magic chain was built to kick-start the economy after a big crash and depression.
Hmmm. Maybe I should suggest it to Europe.
Lucifer Falling and Other Stories

[Rather, Lucifer’s Hammer? .mod]

Reply to  JohnB
January 19, 2015 5:21 pm

Two stations. We need stereoptical capability. If the object is coming almost directly towards one station (the most dangerous situation), ν₂ ~ 0, and it’s impossible to calculate the orbital elements (a, e, i, Ω, ω and t) accurately. Perturbation would be significant, so we’ll need the best look we can get as early as possible.

January 19, 2015 7:31 am

Reblogged this on Jewish and Christian News.
Asteroids are the real threat, not global warming.

James Strom
January 19, 2015 7:48 am

A substantial meteorite apparently hit the Baudouin ice shelf in Antarctica in 2004, as reported in the press about a week ago. It took the scientific community ten years to notice, although according to this story suspicions started to arise in 2007.

January 19, 2015 8:13 am

No need to get in a twist over asteroids as these have stable (more or less) orbits.
It is believed that most of the big cosmic impacts have been due to comets. The Siberian event of about one hundred ya is best explained as a small comet that had been depleted of volatiles.
The reason that comets are most likely to be the giant impactors of the past is due to their orbits, which are such that these intersect the earth’s orbit.
Also, E=MV^2, remember? So the velocity of the impactor (bolide) has more to due with the force of the impact than actual mass. Such velocities are estimated to range from ~5 miles per second to over 50 miles per second, relative to the earth.
So it is fatuous to flatly declare that impactor of X size=Y force.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  mpainter
January 19, 2015 8:31 am

It might be possible that some unknown traveler, coming from who knows where, could randomly whiz through the asteroid belt, playing croquet and plinko, with a side game of snooker. Not much to be done about that.

Reply to  Alan Robertson
January 19, 2015 9:38 am

Yes, it is allowed that comets passing through the asteroid belt have done just that, hence the loose assortment of _meteroids_ drifting hither and yon through the solar system.
Note that the post refers to asteroids when it should use the term meteoroids. There is a continual rain of cosmic debris upon the earth, from dust size upward. [Sieving] deep ocean sediments yields stainless steel micro spheres (nickel/iron). The reddish tinge of the deserts such as in Australia is due to the cosmic dust. The trace isotope 3He is taken as a proxy for comet activity, and this agrees with the high number of very large impact craters dating from the latter Eocene, the Chesapeake Bay impact being one.

Reply to  Alan Robertson
January 19, 2015 4:05 pm

I think you’re trying define comets, meteoroids and asteroids as isolated types of objects.
They’re not. The asteroid belt is ‘believed’ to be the remains from a proto planet or failed planet formation. Comets are proposed as Keiper belt objects, which are also remnants from star/planet formation.
The Keiper belt and beyond are truly beyond our current abilities, unless you want to count V’ger and it’s eight bit radio transmission at 1960s standards. We have a lot of guesses and a little hard information.
Scientists are eager to study objects in the asteroid belt because they believe that there they can research and learn about comets and asteroids, giving insights to many planetary bodies.
Earth, Sol and it’s attendant solar system orbit in a low star density arm of the Milky Way galaxy. Even within this low star density, Sol interacts with near neighbors.
Inclusive in these neighbors are failed dwarf stars, brown dwarfs, planetoids and a seeming endless supply of other ‘oids’.
A large object orbiting the Milky Way galaxy yet transiting near our solar system will interact, if weakly, with our solar system. Worse, that object will act to seriously mix ‘oids outside our Keiper belt and send many of them to visit the Earth.
When they’re aimed at Earth, minor distinctions like does it have a tail, all ‘oids are dangerous.
Some people believe that giant rocky or metal could be the most devastating with their huge molar mass impacting the Earth.
Others wonder about those giant balls of frozen volatiles. Atmospheric friction heats the exterior to UV emission levels until either the giant ball of hydrogen (quite likely, with a sufficient supply of oxygen to be frightening) implodes/explodes or the object impacts the surface to spread superheated gases in all directions. Think napalm only with hydrogen as the fuel instead of jellied gasoline.
The latter might leave the least of the impact craters meaning the Earth directly absorbed a very small part of the impact and the atmosphere took the brunt.
OK, maybe sea levels went up by a half millimeter from all of the new fresh water…

Reply to  Alan Robertson
January 20, 2015 1:43 am

I’m not trying to define squat; it’s already defined as you would see if you would read up. You could, for example, learn how to spell Kuiper.

Owen in GA
Reply to  mpainter
January 19, 2015 9:50 am

at those velocities that pesky 1/2 on the energy term does become a little redundant. (E=1/2 MV^2) but at least it will give the right order of magnitude in most cases.

Reply to  mpainter
January 20, 2015 9:27 am

They (NASA) have admitted to only finding 1% of the NEO that could obliterate a major city

January 19, 2015 8:13 am

Given many of the eviros pushing CAGW think that the world is over populated maybe there’s an inherent logic in their rationale of lowering the priority of calamitous asteroid impact research!

January 19, 2015 8:18 am

For a fascinating account of a supposed ice age cosmic impact, search Saginaw Bay/ Carolina Bays cosmic impact.

January 19, 2015 8:19 am

Creating and sending a space probe with the ability to move the impactor so that it will not strike the earth can be done fairly quickly assuming 2 conditions:
(1) the method of diversion is “gravity tractor”
(2) the impactor is far enough out that the gravity tractor has time to work

Reply to  SunSword
January 19, 2015 10:58 am

Creating and sending a space probe with the ability to move the impactor so that it will not strike the earth can be done fairly quickly assuming 2 conditions:
(1) the method of diversion is “gravity tractor”
(2) the impactor is far enough out that the gravity tractor has time to work

But it took 2+ years of flight time to get ONE, very small satellite to even INTERSECT a comet’s orbit and rendevous close.
Then a couple of months of effort just to “touch” that comet.
And the satellite landing failed, the “drill” failed, and the satellite power supplies failed.
So, you’re going to claim that a “gravity pull” device can get designed, made, launched and delivered “fairly quickly”?
Get launched from what vehicle into orbit, then into the right path to intersect?
And, how many tons are needed on the device if the impact of a 10 ton, or a 120 ton, asteroid will be within 24 months); when you need 6 months of flight plus 6-18 months of “movement” off of earth’s orbit?
Why not an impacting nuclear device(s) to begin breaking the boulder up, begin changing the vector of each of the smaller pieces? Each blast by itself will probably not be enough. Each blast, by itself, will not be as effective as in the earth’s atmosphere, or within the comet/asteroid itself. But each does it part to move the whole.

Reply to  SunSword
January 19, 2015 1:10 pm

Yeah, I have a Ford farm tractor. It does all kinds of ‘gravity’ stuff with the backhoe and bucket. It even has a tractor beam! 🙂

January 19, 2015 8:24 am

I may be wrong but I think they only care BECAUSE of the impact it has on the environment. I don’t think they care about the human/infrastructure damage.
but I am VERY jaded.

January 19, 2015 8:35 am

Reblogged this on Sierra Foothill Commentary and commented:
A few mm of sea Level rise, maybe the smallest of disasters that coastal cities need to worry about.

January 19, 2015 8:43 am

OK, so most of these objects burn up in the atmosphere before hitting the surface. I think that the obvious answer is to make the atmosphere larger/denser.
If only there was some harmless gas that we could emit in large quantities to accomplish this.

Leonard Lane
Reply to  MarkS
January 19, 2015 9:21 pm

Good one MarkS.

January 19, 2015 8:51 am

Reblogged this on Public Secrets and commented:
Now here’s something worth worrying about, rather than a trace gas that functions mostly as plant food. If people worried about human survival were serious, they’d be pushing for more money to track and possibly deflect dangerous asteroids.

January 19, 2015 9:00 am

The only thing more disconcerting than a possible meteor strike would be depending on NASA to do something about it. Since Apollo it is apparent that NASA is nothing more than another incompetent wasteful bureacracy staffed by people who couldn’t get a real job. Let’s review, 2 shuttle disasters using a system to deliver satellites that cost twice as much as conventional launchers, Hubble Telescope that required a repair mission because they didn’t check the optics, probe sent whose antenna wouldn’t open. This doesn’t count how many employees they have like Hansen. Even if it was possible to deflect an impact, depending on NASA to implement reduces the odds of succuess by at least half at twice as much cost.

Leonard Lane
Reply to  Billyjack
January 19, 2015 9:24 pm

Spot on Billyjack. Especially since Obama redefined the mission of NASA to technology and assisting Muslim nations of the world.

January 19, 2015 9:06 am

I will say this an asteroid impact is much more a threat then the hoax of AGW ,and this is the area NASA needs to devote their resources to.
A future asteroid impact probability is 100% and it would be serious the question is when not if. As far as AGW the probability of this materializing is 0% and of having a serious impact is 0%.

January 19, 2015 9:10 am

Does anyone here want to take bets on whether or not someone writes a piece linking these identified flying objects with global warming?
Perhaps global warming will be claimed to be pulling them toward Earth .. or maybe they will hit the Earth and that will cause more global warming … or maybe they will pass near the Earth and the resulting “friction with our atmosphere” will cause more global warming?
These are non-scientific wild guesses, however if they had been projections from a climate change game in a REALLY BIG COMPUTER, the leftists would certainly believe them!

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Richard Greene
January 19, 2015 9:24 am

Hotter planet means taller atmosphere, thus snagging more asteroids = it’s all your fault. TAX!

January 19, 2015 9:11 am
January 19, 2015 9:21 am
It looks like they have recently lowered the threat in 2036 to next to nothing and do not think year 2029 is a threat. . Still I wonder if in year 2029 when this asteroid passes very close to the earth if the gravity from the earth exerted on this asteroid may change it’s future orbit?

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Salvatore Del Prete
January 19, 2015 2:31 pm

That has already been calculated. Now, being a skeptic, I would think that if there was a real threat that Apophis would strike us in 2036 they still wouldn’t acknowledge it. Think of the panic of the under educated, the havoc on the economic markets, the nut jobs coming out of the woodwork and all the other BS that would occur with that type of announcement. By then, though, I will be old enough to hope it does hit so I can go out with a bang!

David Thomson
January 19, 2015 9:21 am

NASA’s ideas about the structures of the Universe are incredibly naive. NASA tells us the Sun is nearly entirely hydrogen and helium, when we can detect large quantities of much heavier elements. NASA tells us comets are dirty balls of ice, when we can clearly see they are rocky. NASA tells us the OORT cloud is fine dust and water ice, while we observe planets and asteroids. NASA tells us we have entered an Interplanetary dust cloud, which they claim is made of hydrogen and helium gases.
NASA, despite its ability to send machinery into space, is guided by academics who believe the Universe is made out of hydrogen and calculus equations. We will all be extinct before NASA realizes the Universe is an eternal structure of material centered around the element of iron, which is constantly creating and destroying matter.
NASA says the Sun is moving with the stars of the Milky Way, and yet the evidence shows our star is part of the Sagittarius Dwarf galaxy and is perpendicularly striking the magnetic plane of the Milky Way galaxy. Our solar system is entering a huge hole punched into the Milky Way magnetic plane by the passage of other stars before us.
The increase in geological activity (seismicity and volcanism) since 1994, the increase in meteors, asteroids, and comets, and the unusual behavior of the Sun are all caused by our solar system entering the Magnetic Plane of the Milky Way. The Interstellar dust is not hypothetical hydrogen and helium, it is debris from an eternity of exploding stars and planets. The structure of the Milky Way Magnetic Plane is a larger scale version of the rings of Saturn and other gas giants.
It is incredible that our academics could be so blind and stupid to not see this. It is time to completely overhaul our understanding of physics and apply a proper physics understanding to the structures of the Universe.

Owen in GA
Reply to  David Thomson
January 19, 2015 9:59 am

The sun is not massive enough for the other contents to mean anything except in spectroscopy. It only has enough mass to make Oxygen at most and that won’t happen for a few billion more years. The only important cycles in our sun at the moment is the H to He reaction. In 4-6 billion years we’ll start seeing 3 He making Carbon in the core, but then the earth will be inside the solar atmosphere so nobody will be living on the earth anyway.
In 3 – 4 billion years politicians will be arguing whether it is worthwhile to build deep space colony ships or would it be better just to charge a “Red Sun” tax on essential life products.

David Thomson
Reply to  Owen in GA
January 19, 2015 10:32 am

Owen – Heavy metals would not float to the surface of the Sun if the core is made of helium. If the gravitational model is correct, there should be no heavy elements in the spectrometry at all. The point is that the galaxies have existed far longer than our star and the Magnetic Plane is populated with more than just hydrogen and helium. It is the source of the increase in asteroids coming our way. If you go to and browse the history of calculated orbits for the observed fireballs, you will see that a significant number of them come from outside the solar system. Also, despite their best efforts to calculate the fireballs’ orbits based on their trajectories, it becomes apparent that most of the sporadics come from a preferred direction relative to the Sun. We are being bombarded by significant-sized objects from outside of the solar system, and they are not hydrogen and helium balls.

Reply to  David Thomson
January 19, 2015 1:15 pm

David, you are correct.
Our planet is not a stationary object with all other things being stationary. All systems in the Universe, past, present and future, are moving. At this point in time, I would suggest they are all falling towards each other, not flying away. This is why our little galaxy is falling into the Milky Way which is falling towards Andromeda which is falling towards the Great Attractor.

January 19, 2015 9:32 am

“The JPL data table is a little tricky to read, but if I’ve understood it correctly, you take the “H” value (absolute magnitude – a measure of “brightness”) from the asteroid table , and look up that value in the diameter conversion chart, to get a range of possible diameters . The diameter estimate is a range, because the size of the asteroid is not the only factor which affects the magnitude / brightness of the object.
YP139 has a “H” value of 21.6, which corresponds to a possible diameter of 130 – 300 metres.
To put this into perspective, the Chelyabinsk meteor which caused a 500 kiloton explosion over Russia in 2013 was estimated to be around 20 metres in diameter. A 300 metre object has the potential to cause (300 ^ 3 / 20 ^ 3) * 500 kilotons = 1.6 Gigaton explosion. An explosion of this magnitude, especially an ocean strike, could create gigantic Tsunamis, and would severely disrupt the global climate for several years, possibly longer.”
So this is all just estimates and worry based on models??
500 kiloton? where are the error bars.. they call this science.
gigantic Tsunamis?
we need to do some controlled experiments and see exactly how high the Tsunamis would be.
are we talking 20 meter tsunnamis or 23meter Tsunamis? These guys just want funding.
And look at the range of possible diameters? 130-300 meters? how can such an inaccurate estimate
even be useable? dont they know that we need actual measurements of the diameters and not estimates?
here is a funny thing to try.
take every skeptical argument or tactic you know and apply it to everything.
C02 is trace gas how can more of a trace thing improve plant growth.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2015 9:49 am

“Steven Mosher
January 19, 2015 at 9:32 am
So this is all just estimates and worry based on models??”
Just like “climate change worry”, eh?

Reply to  Patrick
January 19, 2015 10:15 am

This is not at all like the climate change worry. There is no proof that man made co2 will have a catastrophic effect on Earth, but there is proof that asteroids can, and have caused catastrophic global effects.
Also, the so-called solutions to global warming just happen to be in line with a far left political agenda which seeks to deconstruct the civilized world, while keeping third world peoples in the dark and dependent on the UN.
The “solutions” to an asteroid strike could be politically agnostic while providing spin-off technologies that will benefit everyone. It could also have the effect of focusing NASA back on space, and get them out of environmental politics.

Joseph Murphy
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2015 9:54 am

When they start spending 100’s of billions of tax payer dollars, seek control of my personal decisions, and threaten to crash the world economy I will be more concerned. You are right Mosh, bad science is everywhere. I get a little more grumpy with the bad science that is seeking to alter/manage world socio-economics.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2015 9:56 am

I agree wholly with your skeptical outlook, Mosher. No need to disdain climate alarmism in order to wring hands over asteroids and meteoroids.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2015 4:27 pm

“Steven Mosher …are we talking 20 meter tsunnamis or 23meter Tsunamis?…”

Do you ever think before you type?
The size of a tsunamis depends on where you are when it arrives.
Aye, CO2 is a trace gas.
All those green things all over the plants that produce their own food by using the sun and CO2, emitting O2 as waste. It is believed that once upon a time, Earth’s atmosphere lacked oxygen; i.e. until those green things busily gobbled up the CO2, putting carbon into storage so to speak and emitting oxygen.
All so critters like you can evolve, mostly anyway.
As CO2 becomes less and less concentrated in the atmosphere; i.e. more of a ‘trace’ gas, plants begin to starve as they struggle to claim the few nearby molecules of CO2.
When one is down to 285 molecules per million and one adds just a tiny smidgeon that raises 285 to 400 ppm, that represents a forty percent increase of CO2 availability to plants.
Thousands of billions of plant cells work very hard to gather that CO2 in.
Now what’s your excuse?
PS One lousy meteorite is far far more dangerous than all of CAGW’s postulated and prophesied warming problems in a very cold world!!

Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 20, 2015 4:21 am

C02 is trace gas how can more of a trace thing improve plant growth.

WOW! Did you really write that? I guess I can ignore your statements now. Not even a good straw man. Just bad rhetoric.
[Mosher may have been being sarcastic. May have been invoking a rhetorical comment about Co2 and plants. His intent and his method is unclear. .mod]

January 19, 2015 9:50 am

Periodic mass extinction is nature`s way of simply starting over. Creation and destruction.
Nature`s purpose.

January 19, 2015 9:59 am

Mosh says:
C02 is trace gas how can more of a trace thing improve plant growth.
When you put a seed in a pot, the dirt isn’t what turns into a plant. It is the CO2 in the air. The dirt stays at the same level no matter how big the plant gets.
So it doesn’t matter if CO2 is a tiny trace gas. It is enough to build the plant, and all the organisms in the world’s oceans, and all the forests on earth. And all the animals, too — just one step removed. Carbon dioxide is every bit as essential to life on earth as H2O. But they can’t tax water nearly as easily as taxing “carbon” emissions.
Adding more CO2 just does not have the global warming effect claimed. If it did, global temperatures would truly be skyrocketing. But they aren’t. In fact, global warming has stopped, so the CO2/man-made global warming canard is falsified. The only warming that may be caused has already happened, when CO2 was under 100 ppm. But at current concentrations, CO2 just does not matter. At all. We don’t even have a measurement of AGW from CO2! CO2=AGW is still only a conjecture.
For years we have been commenting here that asteroids are the real threat. All it takes is one medium sized bolide to ruin your day. If NASA wanted to be useful, they would concentrate on the real threats, and forget about the CO2 false alarm.

Reply to  dbstealey
January 19, 2015 11:30 am

Oh but “they” can tax water. Every household in Australia has a water meter, just like a power/gas meter. Even houses that collect water from rainfall are also issued water bills. I live in a block of 18 apartments, but there is just one water meter for the whole block. The property managers a while back posted letters to everyone to say that there is too much water consumption!
And for those countries that do not fit water meters to properties still issue rates bills that contain a water charge component, both supply and waste.
So, we are taxed for pretty much all consumption across the board, power, gas, fuel, food, the air (CO2 tax) and water.

Reply to  Patrick
January 19, 2015 3:52 pm

All my water comes from rainfall, but I have never received a bill for it. Not sure what you mean by that.

January 19, 2015 10:39 am

What are the chances of a meteorite like the Russian one pictured below, grazing our thin smear of atmosphere, rather than smacking into the ground? It must be a remarkable shot to graze the planet, rather than hitting it, and I don’t recall too many direct hits lately.
I make it a 6,400 km radius vs 50 km of atmosphere, or about a 0.8% chance of hitting the atmosphere rather than the planet. (I think that’s right.)
There was another office-block sized grazer filmed in a US national park, way back in the 70s. It passed right through the atmosphere and went out the other side – without even saying ‘hello’. But this was pre-video and pre-internet, and I cannot find a pic or video of it. It is worth seeing again, if anyone can find it, it was a remarkable sight.!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_960/image.jpg

Reply to  ralfellis
January 19, 2015 10:42 am

Ha – Big Jim Cooley has already found a Youtube video of it:

Reply to  ralfellis
January 19, 2015 11:39 am

Here is another video of the 1972 meteor, which went 1,600 km from Utah to Alberta. The video does not start until 30 sec in. To be seen for 1,600 km the meteor must have traveled the entire tangental of the atmosphere – from 50 km up, down to almost ground level, and back up to 50 km up. I make this tangent exactly 1,600 km.
And this is about right, because in the video the meteor passes through a small cumulus cloud (especially on the replay at 48 seconds in), that looks less than 10,000 feet up (say 3 km up).
The Wiki page says the meteor passed within 50 km of the Earth. But at 49 secs on this clip, it is definitely pulling a tongue of vapour out of the cloud, just as an airliner would do. Although I do not notice a sonic boom on this clip, for some reason, as you would expect for a low-level supersonic pass.
Anyway, it is a pretty good shot. You could not get closer.

The meteor does the same on this clip. Look at 5 sec in, and it passes straight through a cloud. But why no sonic boom?

Mac the Knife
Reply to  ralfellis
January 19, 2015 12:21 pm

But why no sonic boom?
There is no ‘first hand/original source’ sound track attached to either of these video clips. Whatever they were filming with either didn’t have audio sync track capability…. of they forgot to ‘turn it on’.
Great 8mm video clips, though!.

Silver ralph
Reply to  ralfellis
January 19, 2015 12:46 pm

Yes, but a sonic boom would shake the camera, just like it did on many of the clips of the Russian meteor. Perhaps the cameraman was too far away for that, but it still looks fairly close to me.

Reply to  ralfellis
January 20, 2015 6:26 pm

The sonic boom would likely arrive later, as thunder does after a flash of lightning. In the Russian videos, people had gone outside to film the contrail the meteor left across the sky when the noise arrived and shook the cameras.

January 19, 2015 10:52 am

Let’s develop strong enough tethering materials to make the space elevator possible. It would be cool…

January 19, 2015 11:11 am
January 19, 2015 11:49 am

So it looks like 2029 will be the closest encounter according to this data. Apophis distance .0002644
How off could this distance be either way? How close would this object have to come to earth to have some kind of an effect no matter how slight?

Reply to  Salvatore Del Prete
January 20, 2015 6:33 pm

These things have to come really, really close to become a pain in the azz. Perhaps that is why the word asteroid is like hemorrhoid.

Mac the Knife
January 19, 2015 11:51 am

For the record, there are currently 1533 potentially hazardous near Earth Asteroids
There are currently 1533 known potentially hazardous Earth Asteroids…..
Every time we make the effort to look for them, we find more.

January 19, 2015 12:53 pm

This is a serious issue to my mind. NEO’s are a threat we can combat if we put our mind and resources to it. Just think where we might be if even 25% of what has been spent on “Climate Change” and Green energy had instead been spent on detection, prediction, and defensive measures. Of course NEO’s are not the only threat. The real nightmare scenario for possible a possible devastating impact with Earth seems to be one in which a comet comes from behind the sun leaving little time for detection and reaction.

Michael J. Dunn
January 19, 2015 12:56 pm

Re: Tabnumlock
Reference the Starfish Prime shot ( 1.4 MT thermonuclear device detonated at 400 km altitude in 1962. Nothing easier to disregard than a treaty, especially when planetary survival is at issue.
But NASA would not be the outfit to get the job done. The national labs would have to design, develop, and test devices in space that probably would have to be at the 100 MT level (maybe on the far side of the Moon) and one or several of these would have to be tossed at the intruder by major booster rocket. The key phenomenon is the “x-ray slap” produced by the detonation, ablating the surface of the intruder under inertial confinement conditions that would create high surface pressure on the intruder, altering its speed or direction by impulse transfer. (This is not mumbo jumbo. I did this for a living.)
If you want to ponder the alternative, go to Winslow, AZ, and take a gander at the Barringer meteor crater: 1200 meters in diameter (3,900 ft). It is estimated to be the result of a 50-meter-diameter nickel-iron meteorite traveling at an impact velocity of 12.8 km/sec, producing a 10-MT event.
Here’s the problem: The weapons needed to deal with an astronomical intruder are beyond the pale in today’s international political climate, so we would have to Go It Alone with an administration that can smell the coffee. Gravity tugs, spiderwebs, and air fresheners are simply twaddle.

Peter Plail
January 19, 2015 1:26 pm

There is a UK project that has a similar mission (to identify threatening near Earth objects) but relies mainly on its own fundraising – the Spaceguard Centre ( ). It is well worth a visit if you are nearby (mid Wales near the England/Wales border).

Lank's cleanses the world
January 19, 2015 2:14 pm

You’d think NASA would be all over this in a big way. Link near-earth asteroids to global warming and hey presto you have the answer to the ‘major dangers’ of our planet (according to NASA).
NASA could send a satellite to direct a chosen asteroid heading in our direction – say just a 100m diameter asteroid that wouldn’t wipe us all out. Aim it at the south pole (or perhaps ISIS or Boko Haram), well inland so that tsunamis weren’t caused by it’s impact. The resulting cloud of ash, water, dust debris (shredded terrorists) etc would ‘dilute’ or completely shut out sunlight for several years, perhaps longer. This would send the world into a cold freeze of darkness an death, similar to what occurred during previous ice ages…. but it would completely halt the ‘dreaded’ global warming.
Who will be first to let Obama into this cunning plan?

January 19, 2015 2:37 pm

Here is an idea. Why don’t we have an organisation to look out for extra terrestial objects that may impact Earth? You know an organisation that is look outwards and not inwards. We could call it something like the National Aeronautical and Space Administration … NASA for short. How about that for an idea. Also maybe they could work on how to deal with such an impact as, you know, a precautionary principle.
Just a thought …

January 19, 2015 2:55 pm

Thanks, Eric.
There are also
NASA Asteroid and Comet Watch:
NEO Earth Close Approaches:

January 19, 2015 3:24 pm

The IPCC announced today that Asteroid impacts have reduced global temperatures, by seeding the atmosphere with heat reducing dust. However, they caution policy makers against complacency, “once we leave this dusty part of space, Global warming will accelerate again”, said a guy who models dusty space at NASA.
The Obama administration released its highest Terror alert to date this afternoon.
“We have credible evidence that ISIS, is attempting to secure a near earth asteroid, as a weapon of mass destruction. They intend to target a large City in the U.S.” said a white house spokesman,…er spokesperson, er,…spokesentity.
The liberal media have resoundingly endorsed the right of ISIS to obtain Asteroids, in retaliation for years of Western oppression. However, some in the liberal media are concerned, that once acquired, the Asteroid may be titled with a cisgendered, hetero-normative name. Some have gone as far as too resoundingly condemn ISIS for its lack of Transgender Jihadi’s.
Many Liberal media outlets are taking up the cause, by actively recruiting Transgendered Jihadi’s on behalf of ISIS.

January 19, 2015 3:27 pm

Earth bonking space objects cannot generate revenue nor lead to leveraging more control over the population and so are of no interest to any grant-giving government agency nor is any university going to pinch off the money stream for equally useless but profitable work in climate alarmism. Best not even bring up the subject because people will think them useless in dealing with global problems. At the very least claim there is only a 38% probability one of these city destroyers will actually become a problem.

January 19, 2015 3:45 pm

I used to know what I would do if the world was going to end in the next couple of hours but now I’m not so sure , age I guess.

Steve Garcia
January 19, 2015 3:53 pm

A good post.
I think the concluding paragraph may be a bit alarmist, but dammit, if we aren’t ready when one comes, we ARE screwed. So serious attention needs to happen, if for no other reason than to identify that we are NOT at risk.
That would be nice.
I would like to invite everyone to drop in at (on Anthony’s SKEPTICAL VIEWS links) for info on this general topic.
Some here are skeptical of that entire line of reasoning. No problem with skeptics here, is there? Not there, either. Like here, the boys at CosmicTusk simply want us all to get it right. Part of the discussion at CosmicTusk is the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. But much of it isn’t.
Part of the discussion is about these NEOs and their very real threat – fully admitting that such a danger may be tens of thousands of years from now. But if we have the capacity to mitigate such a possible impact – for the first time in human history– and we don’t actually ready ourselves for it, we would have to pretty much deserve to get sent back to the stone age, wouldn’t we?
But why should ALL humans suffer because a few dudes that know better are dragging their feet?
BTW, NASA officials are on record denying that they even have jurisdiction for dangerous space objects. NOT a good attitude, IMHO.
Let’s see if attention here can bust some money loose and also boost these NEOs up the priority list.

January 19, 2015 3:54 pm

Sorry — I just can’t get worked up over this one.

January 19, 2015 4:10 pm

Why worry. Man-made global warming will have made the globe incandescent long before a meteor/comet strike!

January 19, 2015 4:19 pm

Good. Thanks to Islam mankind is in need of an extinction level event. Time for some other species to have a shot at the title on this planet.

January 19, 2015 4:42 pm

Not to worry!
Not that a little worry might be beneficial; but all of the sad excuses for scientists working in the CAGW scam are incapable of dealing with real emergencies.

Oh sure, they’re good a picturesque scenes and glib poppets of thoughts for the shallow devotees and mass media. But give them a genuine do or die problem and they’ll scatter.
When faced with desperate citizens, legislators get serious, deadly serious. As soon as the first mealy mouthed researcher gets in front and uses the words, ‘may, might, maybe, could, likely, possibly’ and similar; that same legislator who sucked up those very words while feeding on the gravy train, will cram those words back down the throat of the speaker.
By the third or fourth speaker there will be no more ‘voluntary’ researchers getting in front of the legislators to paint useless pictures of bad research.
Instead the legislators will have to go after them. Such a pretty thought, I’d almost welcome a genuine threat.
Then again, we have genuine threats, severe deadly threats facing civilization, (e.g. ISIS, malaria…). Yet the legislators aren’t facing those problems because they’re not getting their clothes torn during visits to their constituents. Which any wise legislator knows, means it time to suck in more of the existing gravy train before it is gone.

January 19, 2015 6:55 pm

We’re doomed.

January 19, 2015 9:46 pm

NASA has the Torino Scale for assessing the seriousness of an asteroid strike . The scale is One ( No hazard- The likelihood of a collision is zero etc.) through to Ten ( Certain collisions – Collision capable of causing a global climatic catastrophe that may threaten the future of civilisation as we know it etc.) . I do not know how many of the possible asteroid strikes have been given an assessment on the Torino scale.
. A Torino scale Ten event would cause a distinct decline of interest in CAGW.

Martin A
January 20, 2015 12:19 am

…eight of which have Earth-bonking potential.
gerund or present participle: bonking
hit (someone or something).
“he bonked his head on the plane’s low bulkhead”
have sexual intercourse.
“the young couple bonking upstairs”

January 20, 2015 2:34 am

Only a matter of time before the heating Gaia, expands enough to go out and grab these asteroids

cRR Kampen
January 20, 2015 5:40 am

How many cRR Kampens does such an asteroid carry?

January 20, 2015 9:51 am

I made a real honest to goodness asteroid calculator, converts size and speed into equivalent large atomic bombs.
Pretty cool stuff, you can download the entire spreadsheet too, and change the parameters.

January 20, 2015 9:55 am

Updated asteroid list, 1-26-2015 will have energy of 6828 large atomic bombs, just hope it doesn’t bounce off something else and change course.
You can get the free asteroid calculator here too

January 20, 2015 12:07 pm

How ironic. Funny when you think how Immanuel Velikovsky was ridiculed back in the 1950s for suggesting such a thing was not only possible, but that it had almost happened within recorded history. The “consensus” opinion of infallible science at the time held that planet earth was a safe haven, or at the most, had experienced such catastrophic events only in its remote and distant past. Odd how things change.

January 20, 2015 8:26 pm

“Addendum- For the record, there are currently 1533 potentially hazardous near Earth Asteroids -Anthony”
That figure has just gone up by 3 – there are now 1536 potentially hazardous asteroids. Possibly caused by either global warming or else climate change

January 20, 2015 9:40 pm

Not all meteoroids striking Earth hold the same risk. An object entering the atmosphere at high speed has to penetrate through about 10 kilograms worth of air, and this slows it down. (Recall atmospheric pressure will support a vertical column of water about 10 meters high.) Roughly speaking, an object must have more mass than this to strike the surface at significant velocity (i.e., well above terminal velocity). But such objects also have quite different strengths and densities. An iron meteorite, with a density of 7-8 g/cm^3, would not have to be large to qualify. In contrast, the Chelyabinsk object contained water and significant porosity and possessed a density not much above two. Such objects often break into pieces during passage (as this one did), which significantly lessens their ability to produce damage at the surface.

January 20, 2015 9:42 pm

Above, 10 kg should be 10 kg/cm^2 for column density.

jim hogg
January 21, 2015 5:29 am

The Rocks of Damocles, essay by Isaac Asimov from around 40 years ago? Guy knew a lot of stuff. I used it as a source for a short talk in 1975. If we can spend hundreds of billions of dollars/pounds (whatever) on warfare and mutual killing, does that indicate that we have the capacity to set up the necessary apparatus to protect humanity from such a possibility, or that we’re too preoccupied with the killing, destruction and exploitation in the here and now, to be bothered with that kind of insurance?? Answers on the back of a stamp please . .

January 23, 2015 9:37 am

Reblogged this on Joe's Notepad and commented:
Although climate isn’t a problem to be “pushed aside” … near-Earth objects pose an INSTANT risk of catastrophic proportions, and should be monitored at all times, especially by NASA.

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