NASA “Surprised”: Undetected City Killer Asteroid Just Whizzed By Earth

2019OK
Screenshot of NASA’s 2019OK interactive orbit diagram

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

This asteroid, estimated between 187 to 426ft wide and 55,000MPH, passing just 45,000 miles from Earth, wasn’t detected until a few days ago.

‘It snuck up on us’: Scientists stunned by ‘city-killer’ asteroid that just missed Earth

By Allyson Chiu
July 26

Alan Duffy was confused. On Thursday, the astronomer’s phone was suddenly flooded with calls from reporters wanting to know about a large asteroid that had just whizzed past Earth, and he couldn’t figure out “why everyone was so alarmed.”

“I thought everyone was getting worried about something we knew was coming,” Duffy, who is lead scientist at the Royal Institution of Australia, told The Washington Post. Forecasts had already predicted that a couple of asteroids would be passing relatively close to Earth this week.

Then, he looked up the details of the hunk of space rock named Asteroid 2019 OK.

“I was stunned,” he said. “This was a true shock.”

This asteroid wasn’t one that scientists had been tracking, and it had seemingly appeared from “out of nowhere,” Michael Brown, a Melbourne-based observational astronomer, told The Washington Post. According to data from NASA, the craggy rock was large, an estimated 57 to 130 meters wide (187 to 427 feet), and moving fast along a path that brought it within about 73,000 kilometers (45,000 miles) of Earth. That’s less than one-fifth of the distance to the moon and what Duffy considers “uncomfortably close.”

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/07/26/it-snuck-up-us-city-killer-asteroid-just-missed-earth-scientists-almost-didnt-detect-it-time/

The odds of a city buster or larger hitting Earth might be low, but the consequences of a major impact in a populated area would be high.

The unexpected Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013 shows it is possible for cities to be affected by unexpected cosmic visitors.

Nobody really knows how many of these dangerous objects are on orbits which intersect the Earth.

If NASA left climate monitoring to NOAA, and spent more time and money monitoring space, the next near miss or worse might not be such a surprise.

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143 thoughts on “NASA “Surprised”: Undetected City Killer Asteroid Just Whizzed By Earth

  1. “If NASA left climate monitoring to NOAA, and spent more time and money monitoring space, the next near miss or worse might not be such a surprise.”

    A brilliant comment at the end- How about we leave the climate lunacy and concentrate on real hazards, and on real achievable goals that would make life better for humanity, not just the wealthy few pushing the CO2 doom fraud.

    • I concur wholeheartedly that more funds should be spent on space detection systems, however as someone who actually works in the field I can say that it is far from trivial to detect such things.
      To put it bluntly space is very big and very dark, while the objects we are attempting to “see” are also very dark. Its akin to driving very fast at night without headlights and attempting to see every loose stone (including some as black as coal) which could potentially hit your vehicle….FROM ALL DIRECTIONS.
      We would need some very powerful ‘searchlights’ continually scanning the skies for objects of unknown size, color, shape or reflective return. Those will require some very high power requirements if we want to extend the viewable range. Radar is the most promising however it is not fail safe as some rocks have poor return signals reflecting back to the observers.

        • IR is used. But, IR cameras require some very special cooling to keep the detectors cold enough to see. Putting these detectors up in space helps, but they will have limited life, Very cold objects require some time warning up as they approach the sun to achieve any measurable return. If they are coming in at a steep elliptical orbit or even hyperbolic they might not warm up fast enough for us to be able to see them with sufficient time.
          https://www.nasa.gov/planetarydefense/neoo
          https://neowise.ipac.caltech.edu/

          Mostly we are concerned with the highest risk group called “Earth-crossers” in that their orbital path intersects Earth’s orbital path. While they might not be colliding with us this orbit they eventually will if something else doesn’t change their trajectory.
          (Below in another comment I posted a CG video showing what we currently track.)

          BTW contrary to Hollywood’s fantasies, our only defense currently is duck and cover.

          • My ignorance is pretty complete on this but I am aware that rocks such as this that come at us from the direction of the sun are particularly hard to catch. I would think that the close transit past the sun would make the rock a fair bit warmer. Wouldn’t that make the infrared detection somewhat easier? Much cooler than the sun but much warmer than background space.

          • Thanks for the update, Rocketscientist.

            Another question is of course why the rest of the world expect US and NASA to pay for this…

          • In answer to Ryddegutt “Another question is of course why the rest of the world expect US and NASA to pay for this…”

            The answer is: We don’t. America is by far the World’s richest country and what you choose to waste your money on is up to you.

            While the potential damamge from a major asteroid hitting earth is huge (especially if it hits a city), the odds of that actually happening in the next 100 years are remarkably low, and even if we did detect an asteroid about to hit earth there is probably nothing we could do about it.

          • That philosophy seemed to work during the cold war, see a blinding flash so duck & turn, & you’ll be just fine! 😉

          • Why should America pay for this?

            I think this is far more useful thing to spend your money on that silly climate models which assume, a priori, that humans cause 100% of recent climate change. Reallocate resources. Defund the climate astrologers.

          • Objects like the asteroid in question do not need time to warm up as they are in near Earth orbits. The only threats that might need to warm up would be coming from deep space and our observation systems for those is more than adequate. No, with an estimated 1 billion objects in orbit between the sun and Mars, the focus has to be on being able to detect those and putting an IR camera in orbit does not mean it is a limited life object, it just has to be built so that it can be serviced by robots. Which is fairly easy to do when you think about it.

        • John, while cold object approaching us from the sun side will have warmed up by being close to the sun, one must remember the primary attack vector when trying to approach and enemy undetected is to keep the sun at your back. Our “eyes” will be blinded by the sun.

        • “Why does the rest of the planet expect America to save their asses while simultaneously decrying our actions?” tough question.
          Perhaps its the same reason a teenager expects their parents to buy them a car…and not impose a few rules.

          It would be an interesting scenario wherein we detected an imminent strike, but that it’s impact would not hit the US nor cause a serious threat to the US…and the US decided not to do anything about it because it cost too much money.

          • It is conceivable that the USA could detect such an incoming rock, calculate where would land, and keep quiet depending on who it will strike.

            Russia might do the same. Maybe invest in a few oil futures…

            There is no altruism in a disunited world. Maybe make the network an ISS project with online feeds. Never trust the spooks.

        • The problem is that the asteroids are very small, relatively speaking, and not very reflective. With any passive system, either optical or IR, you have to trade off the field of view and dwell time against the signal strength. For asteroids, merely to see them you have to have a large telescope and a narrow field of view, which means that scanning the sky takes a very long time.

        • john harmsworth
          Stop whining, my posts take 5 hours because ….”naughty naughty list”
          Yours will post at the “top of the hour”, just like everyone else..(except me)…lol

          Your naughty friend

          Marcus

          (You keep getting snagged by wp blacklist check, but I have looked your IP over in several ways to see that you are clean everywhere else) SUNMOD

      • Has anyone proposed a more ambitious monitoring program than what we have now? Perhaps a network of high altitude multisensor satellites… or a moon based network?

      • Arthur C. Clarke discussed this problem in “Rendezvous with Rama”. Unfortunately, the only feasible solution involves using nuclear explosives to generate the required outgoing signal power.

      • Speaking of radar, I happen to be interested in the prospect of someone, someday, building a radio telescope array on the far side of the Moon. This is something that I consider to be eminently ‘do-able’ or worth doing in principle, given that the Moon keeps one side away from the Earth at all times. In this development, the body of the Moon would effectively act as shielding against interference from all directly earth originated radio emissions, to the benefit of operating such a Far Side Array.

        Usually a Lunar Far Side Array would be presented as a pure research project, I’m sure, as in ‘detect signals from other galaxies’, etc. However, what if we now imagine that someone here on earth is sweeping the sky with a powerful radar beam, hoping to get very faint signals back from small asteroids? Maybe a Far Side Array could be an ideal detector for picking up those signals, so as to map the asteroids’ locations exactly.

        Next time someone asks ‘what is the practical use of returning to the Moon”, is this one possible answer?

        • And you are going to transmit data back to earth from the far side of the moon how??? 🙂

          • re: “And you are going to transmit data back to earth from the far side of the moon how???”

            Three Lunar orbiting sats (spaced 120 degrees longitude) communicating with the far side moon RADAR site should be able to do that.

      • re: “Radar is the most promising however it is not fail safe as some rocks have poor return signals reflecting back to the observers.”

        Maybe you’re unaware of a system we used to have in place, that with additions and modifications could have provided something along these lines (I haven’t done any number crunching to see what the limits for detectability are).

        The system was the old Navy Space Surveillance (SpaSur) ‘fence’ and associated receive sites scattered around the country:

        http://thelivingmoon.com/45jack_files/03files/NAVY_Lake_Kickapoo.html

        I mentioned this above (or maybe below) but no one picked up on it, because, I’m sure no one deep into climate science (or the weather/weather science) has had any exposure to this sort of thing (unless you’re into radio astronomy or tracking meteors years back.)

        The old Navy SpaSur ‘fence’ was transferred to the Air Force, who killed it a few years after taking operational responsibility:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Force_Space_Surveillance_System

        In it’s last operational state it was able to detect basketball sized (29.5 inches (75 cm)) objects at heights up to 30,000 km (15,000 nautical miles.)

  2. You appear to be unaware of the NASA Center for Near-Earth Object Studies which has been working on this subject for over 20 years and is regarded as the world leader in such studies. They have been responsible for the detection of over 90% of such near earth objects discovered so far (close to 20,000). Congress has mandated NASA to discover 90 percent of the NEOs down to the size of 450 feet (140 meters), and to do so by the year 2020. This one was not quite that big.

    • I didn’t get that impression at all. Eric stated that if NASA stopped wasting money on a nonissue and spent “more” time and money monitoring space, we might not have been surprised by this latest near miss.

      Where in the above article does Eric state that NASA is not monitoring near Earth objects?

    • Terrific. What’s their action plan? Or is it just all about being keenly aware of the rock’s precise trajectory as it plummets towards a major metropolitan area?

      • At this time, that’s about all we could do.
        …and to complicate matters further it might very well be folly to attempt to break up or deflect the object without any knowledge about what will happen during such an attempt.

        If a snow ball is flying at you and you reach out and hit it with a tennis racket…you still get hit with the snow.
        It’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

        • If it were technically feasible to place and detonate a 100 MT warhead and shatter a oncoming asteroid, what is the down-side? The likelihood of an asteroid making it to the ground depends on its surface area and entrance velocity. Make the pieces small enough and they ablate into vapor. Lots of smaller rocks will be reduced better than one large rock.

          • Actually, that’s not true. You would have to deflect it entirely. Whether in one piece or many, the same kinetic energy – and thermal pulse – is transmitted to the atmosphere when the meteorite hits it.

          • The same thermal pulse distributed over an area several hundred times larger, is less of a problem.

        • How about the Amazon approach to planet killer detection? Instead of launching 3K+ communications satellites into orbit to provide internet access to all parts of the planet, Amazon could launch 3K+ satellites to detect the next city, or planet, killer that’s headed our way. That many ‘eyes’ looking in all directions might be, truly, useful. Not that internet access in every nook and cranny of the planet wouldn’t be useful…

          Cheers

          Max

          • Someday soon there will be Internet access everywhere on Earth. Only it will access you.

        • Don’t blow it up, either speed it up or slow it down slightly. Two moving objects intersecting only requires a slight change in velocity for one to miss.

          • I had this discussion with someone on another post here at WUWT and it’s astonishing how much fuel you have to haul to even a small rock to give it a good push. Blowing it up is a trivial challenge in comparison.

      • Perhaps we could throw some CO2 at it. I here that destroys everything it touches. My posts aren’t posting, Mod. What’s up?

      • Terrific. What’s their action plan? Or is it just all about being keenly aware of the rock’s precise trajectory as it plummets towards a major metropolitan area?

        Look at the near earth objects with the highest danger ratings in NASA’s “Sentry” program:

        https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/sentry/

        #1 has an estimated impact year of approximately 2900 (which is after the year 2525 ;-)).

        #2 has an estimated impact year of approximately 2180.

        #3 through #10 have much earlier impact year estimates, but they are much smaller objects. And even for those, the estimates are generally several decades into the future, not in the next year or two.

        The point here is that the NEOs with the highest dangers aren’t necessarily going to impact this year, this decade, or even this century. So it makes sense to find them first, and worry about action much later.

    • Thus the author used the word “more”. Clearly the goals set are insufficient. These arbitrary metrics wouldn’t provide much solace were a city to be wiped out without any advanced warning of danger.

      Having watched the demise of NASA from a preeminent pioneer to what feels like and in many cases is a politically-driven organization more concerned with head counts and the ego-driven measurements of managing certain funding levels.

      I was offered a job to lead a program—a program that hoped to achieve a certain technical goal, but one that had already been done under the DoD. I pointed out that the project could be completed in a year and for half (or less) of the money. They were not interested. What they wanted to do was to divide the budget among different sites (Goddard, JPL-based folks, etc.) and to have a certain internal headcount on the project. That was NOT goal drive, but jobs program driven. It left a bad taste in my mouth and I refused to participate.

      • Most people forget the last A in NASA stands for “Administration”. NASA doesn’t build rockets. NASA buys rockets and maintains launch facilities and testing labs.
        IMHO I do not hold much of NASA with high regard. Those of us who actually try to accomplish these things work for companies who actually do these things.

        BTW JPL is a Caltech facility run by NASA.

    • How can one ever claim, with certainty, to have identified any percentage of an unknown number.
      If at 400 odd feet this one is called a city buster, city size unknown (perhaps Washington DC), I don’t think it is unfair to ask for more time spent on this type of monitoring rather then on something for which there are untold organisations already doing so.
      Having said that, it saved a lot of media induced panic not knowing about it.

      • “How can one ever claim, with certainty, to have identified any percentage of an unknown number.” You’ve just stumbled upon how government works.

      • Good point. It also saved us from a lot of media/UN/EU calls for immediate installation of an unelected Socialist Supergovernment to rule the world.

    • Eleven of the NEOs passing in the next 2 months weren’t discovered until 2019. Two of these are larger than 140 meters and 8 are larger than the 20-meter Chelyabinsk meteor that exploded over Russia in 2013. (from table on SpaceWeather.com)

      • Wishful thinking. The only thing NASA has failed to do is meet unreasonable expectations from the fantasy fed ignorant public….that doesn’t want to ‘waste’ money on space.

    • If this NEO struck Earth (and assuming it was not so friable so as to break up in the atmosphere), it could make a crater at least a mile wide, fling ejecta several miles, and produce a destructive blast zone tens of miles.
      IF it broke up in the atmosphere (like Chelyabinsk over Russia), blast energy would extend over many tens of miles, and large pieces could rain down to earth over tens of miles.

      • it might actually be a good thing if one does hit
        it would focus people on some REAL risk and damages and make agw a non event
        as would a CME or massive quake event
        imagine being around when someplace sunk into the sea like Atlantis did;-)
        humanitys had nothing like that to contend with since???
        good heavens it could be…UNprecedented;-))))

  3. The dinosaurs didn’t have much warning either. They were busy with daily affairs, family planning, territorial defense, and climate change.

    Had they survived they might have gone on to invent taxation, advocacy groups, and agenda science.

    • Entirely off subject, but I don’t think much has been done comparing the behavior of mammals to dinosaurs.
      Compare a flock of chickens to a herd of cows. Their behavior is worlds apart. A herd usually has one lead cow and a group of followers. The males are relegated to the fringes, except in mating season. Discipline seems to be handed out on-on-one by the leader.

      A flock of chickens also has a top chicken. It is the one that “bests” in some fashion all the other chickens, all the way down to the few at the bottom of the pecking order. Those suffer and tend to die early.

      Meeting a race of dinosaurs would be a strange experience.

  4. I did this tweet ref the inaccuracies in the expert’s statements (e = eccentricity of orbit and high e means elongated orbit, usually with a high aphelion as in this case; geocentric speed is the vector-summed speed of Earth heliocentric speed and NEO heliocentric speed and so a highly angled NEO orbital path crossing Earth’s ~circular path means a higher vector-summed (geocentric) speed- in this case 24km/sec which is quite high and fairly rare…

    https://twitter.com/scute1133/status/1155164471490416640?s=21

    Re nuclear, the Planetary Defence Conferences of 2017 and 2019 both seriously entertained the idea of nuclear and then ‘used it’ in their fictional exercise scenario of an Earthbound NEO that needed deflecting. It was high on the agenda for ensuring a successful deflection because multiple kinetic impactors were needed if they alone were used and only one KI needed to fail for the whole deflection exercise to fail. But only one nuclear explosive device (NED) was needed. It was sent with the observation craft as a back-up option after much discussion on the morality and (space) legal implications. Technically, it’s a no brainer for a more assured successful outcome.

    The 2017 Whitehouse report on NEO deflection, written with advice of experts including NASA, also embraced NEDs. These ‘experts’ really should be up to speed on this instead of laughing up their sleeve and making sniggering comments about Bruce Willis.

    I’ve been promoting the NED option on Twitter for years and I’m astounded at the number of ‘experts’ who dismiss it as crazy. It’s not if done in a technically sound manner (explosion offset from NEO so as not to disrupt it but to nudge it- far more than a KI would).

    And for a last resort even disruption is entertained (both by the Whitehouse Report and the 2019 Planetary Defence Conference where a fragment was still headed for Earth and the only option was disruption) was.

    If this NEO, 2109OK had been on target (a chance in 30 within the keyhole it flew through, we would’ve all been at sea arguing over what to do including nuclear option- with a day or two’s notice time. These people really do need to buck up their ideas. This NEO “surprise” was no surprise at all for me because I study all sub lunar distance NEO close approaches (circa 5-10 per year, usually slower and smaller than 2019OK). I understand their various orbits, the way they can sneak up on us at speed and give little warning time, and the need for keeping the nuclear option in play.

    • I saw a study recently that claimed blowing an asteriod into smaller pieces would only result in the smaller pieces reassembling back into the original asteriod. I suppose it would depend on how big an explosion there was, and the proximity to Earth at the time of the explosion, as to whether that caused the asteriod to miss the Earth.

      It seems to me that using lasers to deflect asteriods is going to end up being the best way to do this job. Lasers won’t break the asteriod up, they will just deflect it slightly out of its orbit. A laser would not have to match orbits with the target asteriod which I think is a huge advantage.

      We could put some powerful lasers in orbit powered by Solar Power Satellites (SPS) and they can reach out and touch killer asteriods. The lasers could also be used to propel probes to interesting places all over the solar system in record times, could propel commercial craft in orbit, and the SPS could power infrastructure in the Earth/Moon system.

      The Chinese are planning on having a working demonstration Solar Power Satellite in orbit by the year 2030. NASA needs to beat the Chinese to the punch, imo. Let’s have a new space race!

  5. I am thinking that when this Asteroid was detected ,
    there was only about 46min till impact.
    Just time to duck and cover?

  6. This asteroid apparently had an atypical orbit so detection would be less likely if fewer observations were being made of the sections of sky it inhabits. This makes some sense. Why spend precious observation time when little will be found and more detections would come from watching the more typical asteroid space lanes? Not an excuse; just an explanation. But one that says we need more observation in general.

  7. Of the 28 near earth asteroids currently listed on SpaceWeather.com for the next 2 months, 11 have a 2019 designator. If over one third were first observed in 2019, that doesn’t give me a warm and fuzzy at all. There is a giant roulette wheel in space where we can expect a deadly jackpot as history repeats itself.

  8. Welcome to Vietnam and the Golden BB theory. When we were there the theory was either there is a Golden BB with your name on it or there isn’t. If you hide under your bed it will find you if your name is on it. Crazy, of course, but it’s how I will personally deal with the Killer Asteroid menace.

  9. NASA has priorities …

    “In a partnership with Nickelodeon, NASA is sending a package of slime to the orbiting laboratory (International Space Station). The sticky green substance has been popular on the children’s network for decades, appearing in game shows and various other programs, and now we’ll get to see what it looks like in microgravity.”

  10. I expect a convenient “near miss” every now and again doesn’t do their funding any harm.

    At least they are not arguing for the reversal of the entire industrial revolution.

    • And another big difference: this is a real, demonstrable threat. Large impacts have occurred before (many times in fact), and they will occur again. That is an indisputable fact. CAGW is a conjecture (isn’t even a theory since it has no null hypothesis) supported mostly by unverified computer models.

    • Indirectly, they are advocating exactly that. By doing their very best to support the AGW delusion. They are also thwarting any attempt to go to Mars by ridiculously inflated project costing that only suffices to support the bureaucracy.

  11. Let’s not freak out. To kill a city an asteroid of this size first has to hit one. Not an easy task in a planet that is 70% ocean and has plenty of sparsely populated tundras, taigas, deserts and mountains. Last one was Tugunska in 1908, so it is not as if they are falling every other day.

    • An ocean strike would be worse than a land strike, given possible tsunamis. It does depend on where, but some ocean strikes would be quite severe.
      What I am considering is the scenario in “Lucifer’s Hammer” by Pournelle and Niven.

      • Ocean strike for this one? The ocean is too big. More like a lake strike, splattering mud all over the place, scaring the feathers off ducks and geese and leaving trout flapping hopelessly on rooftops.

        • Sara, you did see the estimates for possible energy on this puppy–megatons to a few gigatons. An ocean strike could produce a tsunami worse than the one in Indonesia.

        • Lake Michigan is 975 feet deep at its deepest point. Lake Sueprior is 1,332 feet in depth Are you saying that a water body that deep is unable to handle a strike from a (maybe) 200 foot rock?

          Taking everything into account, including the rather panicky tone people have evinced, my response is that the shock wave from the passing of the Chelyabinsk meteor as it blew off its outer shells is what caused the damage, NOT the impact. It took weeks to find any impact site.

          Asteroids become meteors when they enter a planetary atmosphere, The intense heat of entry causes the outer layers to separate from the rock. It’s also traveling FAR past the speed of sound, which creates a shock wave following behind it. If it’s strong enough, it will knock down brick walls and shatter windows. The 1908 Tungusk meteor strike sent a shock wave that rang church bells in Boston, MA, but no buildings were knocked down. in Boston.

          The panicky tone that appears here and there means that rational thinking is displaced rather badly. The meteor/asteroid in “Lucifer’s Hammer” was OVER a mile in diameter, FAR LARGER than this rock, which is somewhere between 200 feet and 400 feet and there are NO PHOTOS OF IT available just yet.

          We’d have been in far more danger if Oumuamua had headed this way when it took a left turn inside Mercury’s orbit last year, using the Sun’s gravity well as a redirector. That “space needle” was 85++ feet wide and well over a half mile long, moving at 250,000 MPH. THAT is a real threat, because no one saw it until it showed up in the SOHO stuff. This rock? Not even close to that one.

          So let’s do this: find a big pool of water and call it the Pacific Ocean, which has a depth of 30,000+/- feet , and shoot a jelly bean into it, which – by comparison – is about the proportionate size of this rock, at a speed proportionately calculated to match the speed of 2019 OK, and see just HOW BIG a wave it creates when shot into that pool of water.

          I sincerely doubt that 2019 OK has enough size to create more than a splash in any ocean, and would be far more likely to make a nuisance of itself on land and/or in a large lake like Baikal or Michigan or Superior.

          • Someone in this comment chain made the calculation of the impact energy, and it was from 50 megatons to 4 gigatons. A 56 megaton bomb, the Tsar Bomba, caused significant damage 50 kilometers away.

          • And someone failed to take into account that the outer layers of the rock will be blown off by passing through Earth’s atmosphere.

            The false assumption is also that it will come in at a perpendicular straight line, instead of at an angle. Chelyabinks, Tunguska and many, many others have come in AT AN ANGLE, losing volume along the way. The is a VAST difference between an angular impact and a perpendicular impact. VAST.

            But pray continue, with the panic attacks, if that’s what makes you happy.

          • Also, Tsar Bomba was a NUCLEAR WEAPONT, something that generates heat from nuclear energy. That was a static event, dropped from a Soviet bomber. It was NOT moving anywhere except downward.

            Small asteroids and meteors are incapable of generating heat of any kind at all, other than what is generated by the PASSAGE THROUGH EARTH’S ATMOSPHERE as the outer layers are blown off. Once the outer layers of the meteor or small asteroid are GONE, there is NO heat generated. Furthermore, if it lands in water, how is it going to set stuff on fire???????

            When the Chelyabinsk meteor had lost its outer layer, the friction-generated heat and smoke/vapor trail stopped and it was NOTHING but Big Rock from Outer Space. The same thing happened with the Tunguska meteor: it generated friction and massive shock waves but there are ZERO FRAGMENTS OF IT ANYWHERE BECAUSE IT FELL APART AS IT TRAVELED TO IMPACT.

            It is physically impossible for any of these space objects to do anything that even vaguely resembles a nuclear explosion, no matter how much gossip and uneducated nonsense you pick up off the news media.

            It’s also a false assumption that this thing WILL automatically enter Earth’s atmosphere, when IN FACT, it could very well bounce off the upper atmosphere and change direction the way a billiard ball changes direction. Those things are common occurrences.

          • Sara, for an approchable explanation, try reading Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” or Niven and Pournelle’s “Lucifer’s Hammer”. Releasing a large amount of energy in a small area will seem like a bomb, and whether the energy comes from fusion or kinetic energy, you would still be vaporized if sufficiently close.

          • What makes you think that its trajectory will have it traveling anywhere NEAR anyone? And also, what makes you think anyone would be close enough to that thing to even feel the heat of friction???? Didn’t happen at Chelyabinsk, so how will it happen with 2019OK? Huh????

            Watch the Chelyabinsk archive I posted. You might learn something. The worst damage was caused by the shock wave as it passed buildings, blowing out windows and knocking down partially-constructed brick walls. NO HEAT WAS INVOLVED IN ANY OF THAT DESTRUCTION. The bolide continued to blow off chunks as it went, hence more explosion noises downrange. The vapor trail created by its entry into the atmosphere ended and it was no longer visible as a rock. The largest remaining chunk found of that asteroid was the size of a couple of tractor tires. That’s REALITY.

            I already read those stories before you ever heard of them. I read Heinlein’s stories when I was 13 years old, all through my teens. You just discovered them.

            But go ahead and embed yourself in panic and fear. At least you’ll be consistent.

            I’ll be checking my popcorn stocks and cooking seasonings.

          • It is the same principle that is behind the Rods from God program. Rods from God is a proposed orbiting space weapons platform named Project Thor. While the space weapons ban included Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Weapons being placed in space it doesn’t excluded kinetic energy weapons.
            Thor used a large projectile from a few thousand miles above the Earth. The “Rods from God” idea was a bundle of telephone-pole-size (20 feet long, 1 foot in diameter) tungsten rods, dropped from orbit, reaching a speed of up to 10 times the speed of sound.
            They hit the ground and penetrate hundreds of feet and impart the kinetic energy equal to a small tactical Nuke

          • What makes you think that its trajectory will have it traveling anywhere NEAR anyone? And also, what makes you think anyone would be close enough to that thing to even feel the heat of friction???? Didn’t happen at Chelyabinsk, so how will it happen with 2019OK? Huh????

            I’m not sure about this source, but it seems to disagree with you.

            http://theconversation.com/chelyabinsk-meteor-explosion-a-wake-up-call-scientists-warn-19874

            The authors of a third study, led by Olga Popova from the Russian Academy of Science, visited 50 villages in outlying Chelyabinsk in the weeks following the airburst.

            They counted the homes damaged by meteor fragments and the number of people injured by the shockwave and radiation, which included UV and thermal burns as well as retinal damage.

            “This data is significant because it shows that, even though the asteroid fell to Earth already severely weakened and its smaller fragments limited the damage on the ground, people still suffered burns from the UV glow of the very hot fireball,” said Dr Duffy.

  12. Meteor detection and climate change should not be intermixed in the same discussion aside from funding.

    Climate Changes and spending taxpayer money to create an infrastructure of “Chicken Little’s” crying for more money when they acknowledge that they cannot control the climate is an exercise in taxpayer extortion. Climate Change is a long term issue crated mostly out of man made supposition whipped up to control the citizenry and enrich the poliscientific community.

    We could redirect all that money to support the “sky is falling” “Chicken Little’s” to enhance and continuously improve our early detection process. Who knows, maybe someday we will be able to not only provide early warning to citizens about to be destroyed but might actually be able to avoid the collision altogether.

  13. An asteroid that size could have released some 100mt of explosive energy, if it had hit Earth. Not so shabby after all..

  14. As of when I’m posting this, there are 23 comments visible and nobody has mentioned Tunguska. Even if a big rock doesn’t quite hit the Earth, an air burst can be very damaging.

    I wonder how many near misses we have that nobody notices.

    • Reminds me of the US Army quote from early in WWII dismissing the advantages of camouflage:
      “We know of no instance where the enemy has used camouflage successfully against us.”
      …I guess it works.

    • Nukes are similar in that an Air Burst is far more destructive than a ground burst (though I wouldn’t want to be less than 1000 miles away from either occurance, and not downwind)

    • Comments take forever to show, but I managed to beat you to the Tugunska reference 😉

      Asteroids are not in my list of existential threats during my time. And they are an argument for really bad movies.

    • We should build a city where the Tunguska hit was. What’s the chances that another one would hit in exactly the same place?

  15. This asteroid passed less than 6 Earth diameters away from the Earth, and it was actually fortunate that it had a high relative velocity–if it was traveling less than about 18,000 mph, Earth’s gravity could have pulled it down. An object that size could destroy a city, but it would probably also cause some cooling due to dust obscuring the sun, probably even more than a volcanic eruption. Maybe the AGW alarmists wish it had hit the earth!

    This asteroid probably would have been more dangerous if it struck the ocean, because it would send tsunamis to all coastlines bordering the ocean into which it fell.

    • Had that happened Steve the alarmists particularly the BBC, would have been broadcasting the news that global warming had increased sea level as predicted

  16. passing just 45,000 miles from Earth“, it can be right, but if that is correct is alarming.
    Earth diameter is just under 8,000 miles, the geostationary orbit is at 26,200 miles !
    Little Swedish witch might be right for wrong reason, send for Captain Kirk and dr Spock, else “the end is nigh”

    • I haven’t seen anywhere the answer to this question:
      How much was the asteroid’s orbit perturbed or changed by coming ‘near’ earth? What is it’s next ‘target’?

      • According to NASA it will next approach the Earth in Oct 2024 but will pass at a distance of about 0.5 AU. It’s next close passage to anywhere will be to Venus in July 2032 at about 0.05 AU.

  17. The good news is, there are only a few trillion of these things we need to be concerned about…
    The other good news is our friendly giant Jupiter seems to like them a lot.

  18. As the the “unknown” effects of such a meteor, they are at least estimable.

    The Chelyabinsk meteor explosion released about 500 kilotons (kt), or 0.5 megatons (Mt) of energy. That’s comparable to the average land-based ICBM warhead yield these days. Occurring, as it did, at at about 28 km altitude limited the damage on the ground, but that damage was still substantial.

    From the parameters of 2019 OK, it would have an energy of from 4.3 to 2,900 megatons of TNT. The lower value is in the range of estimates for the 1908 Tunguska event, which leveled 2,000 km^2 (770 square miles) of forest – equivalent to 3 to 30 Mt TNT, depending on the altitude of the burst. This would qualify 2019 OK as a “city killer.”

    The upper value, 2,900 Mt, has no easy equivalent referent. It represents roughly 10% of the total yield of the earth’s nuclear stockpiles at the end of the Cold War (estimated at 22,000 Mt).

    The 50 Mt Tsar Bomba detonated by the Soviet Union, destroyed all of the buildings in the village of Severny, 55 km (34 mi) from ground zero, and broke windows 900 km (560 mi) away. Distant-focus overpressure (DFO) also resulted in window breakage as far away as Finland and Norway.

    2,900 Mt is more than 10 times the energy release of Krakatoa – and it would happen all at once, rather than spread over time. The best outcome would be entry over a broad ocean area, in which case only a lot of ships and some aircraft would be lost. The worst would be over Europe, in which case entire countries would cease to exist.

    The fact that this came so close (and 45,000 miles is way too close) is enough to really shake up anyone conversant with the subject – including me.

  19. Javier posted this 47 min before your post, commieBob: “Last one was Tugunska in 1908, so it is not as if they are falling every other day.”

  20. I wonder if the old Navy-operated SPASUR (Space Surveillance) RADAR (and now defunct) could have detected this object out a little further, giving a little more “warning” time …

  21. Not too worried about it. But when I got homeowner’s insurance, I did ask my agent about rocks from outer space and whether or not they are covered. No, they are not. They are considered an Act of God, therefore God has to pay for it.

    However, meteors are worth a fortune to meteor hunters, so if this one lands on your property and/or impacts your house and turnips and pear trees, you can probably recover the cost by selling the rock to meteor hunters, or auctioning it off.

    Big Rocks from Outer Space? If one that size impacted in Lake Michigan, it would very likely sink to the bottom after the splashdown and subsequently produce a high rebound wave, but the height of the wave will/would depend entirely on how much of the outer layers of the meteor’s shell are blown off by its impact in the atmosphere. That is the lesson of Chelyabinsk. And they still haven’t found all the pieces of that one.

    On the other hand, if it landed in Chicago’s South Side, it might clean up the place a little bit.

    If you want to know WHEN 2019 OK will hit Earth, and possibly where, spin the Whiz Wheel and include its orbital period. Probably not for another 150 years, minimum.

    But YOU NEVER KNOW, RIGHT???? There’s one out there with Los Angeles or Chicago or New York or London stamped on it… only a matter of time… and then, WHACK!!!

    • Meteor hunters will pay a lot for meteors but if a meteor turns itself into a meteorite in the middle of your house in Australia you are out of luck.
      Meteorites are the property of Australian states.
      The head of state of each Australian state is the Governor who is the representative of the UK monarch.

      So bad luck meteor hunters, in Australia a meteorite belong to the Queen even it has demolished your house. Better check the fine print of your insurance policy.

  22. Also, even though CommieBob mentioned the airbust that would accompany
    a mid to large-sized meteor entering our atmosphere, there’s also the plasma
    envelope that builds up as the object descends before it disintegrates.

    From time to time spaceweather.com posts the “sounds” of meteorites zinging
    (singing) through the air, caught and recorded by ham radio operators. Most of
    these objects simply burn up and the radio interference ends… or the object
    passes over the observer’s horizon.

    The developing plasma envelope of in-falling objects upon atmospheric entry
    is a well-known phenomena to NASA, DoD, and other aeronautic actors. It
    happens to capsules, shuttles, even airplanes as they travel in the atmosphere
    or descend. Without shielding or special grounding measures it interferes or
    blanks out their radio communications until the plasma envelope dissipates.

    A fair sized in-falling meteor will be a fast traveling short-term EMP source.
    The closer the object gets to ground level the more localized and intense the
    EMP effect.

    There’s virtually no information based on actual observations of what happens
    when a fair-sized impactor hits the ground at speed with it’s plasma envelope
    intact. It hasn’t happened yet in our modern world.

    • The Chelyabinsk meteor happened. You should get away from the computer occasionally. Meteors do not respond to the atmosphere the way our space junk does. They develop the “plasma” envelope which ends as soon as they either disintegrate or the meteor has shed its outer layers. Then the heat, friction, and trail through the atmosphere END and the rock just keeps going.

      • Sara:

        Wrong. You should read more and blab less.

        Both the Chelyabinsk and Tunguska events were atmospheric disintegrations.
        Air resistance slows the fragments in such events to where they no longer
        excite the atmospheric ions.

        Read the fine print in statements like “Most of these objects simply burn up
        and the radio interference ends”.

        Shedding a few layers on larger meteors/asteroids doesn’t dissipate the
        plasma envelope… as demonstrated with the ablative shielding used by
        NASA for Gemini and Apollo vehicles. Non-ablative tiles were used for
        the Shuttles and when they came down, they still had a period when the
        “envelope” blanked out their radio transmissions/reception.

        Large meteors don’t need to worry about shedding layers of debris.
        They hit the Earth’s gravity well from deep space where they’ve been
        chilled for millions of years. Such objects laugh at the atmosphere
        in passing. Their plasma envelopes actually preserve the core from
        cooking.

        However, they can become unstable as the exterior warms but the interior
        stays cold. Thus fragmentation, sometimes explosive, without ground
        contact.

  23. The time is long overdue to shut down the entire “NASA” operation at Columbia University. There are more than enough temperature adjusters at other government agencies. I believe that Gavin and his crew should all be reassigned to support the group responsible for detecting potential city killers like the one that they just missed. These are true extinction level events which do not require adjustments to empirical data and rewriting the history of the past 5,000 years to make their arguments.

  24. Lets say this thing had hit land. What could we expect from an object moving at 24-25km/second and roughly 450 feet in diameter at a high angle of entry.

    At impact we would see a crater about 1-1.5 miles across and about 500-750 feet deep. Everything for about 10-20 miles would be vaporized or destroyed by the explosion/shock waves. The dust cloud would approach 60-90,000 feet in altitude and place dust into our stratosphere. The ground shock wave would disturb tectonic plates globally.

    Local impact would be total destruction of the area. The global impact would be cooling and potential eruptions of many volcanoes around plate boundaries. May even cause earth wobble. IF it hit water the tsunamis would devastate coastal cities globally.

    Not sure here, but the short term (5-10 years) should see a significant cool down and have global effects that hit everyone. Maybe thinking it was just a “little rock” might not be a such a good idea and we live with this potential threat every day..

    Just a little food for thought… I know very few people who have food supplies and structures that would sustain life for 2 years while everyone fights for available food. Maybe there is some wisdom in that pre-planning.

  25. In 2013,the small asteroid that exploded over a Russian city injured over a thousand people and did damage to many buildings.The scientists never saw this thing coming.And now,another one just missed the earth by a short distance,catching the scientists off guard.The threat is real and the earth may be entering an active zone or an uptick in asteroid numbers evidenced by the recent increase of fireball sightings and increased incidences of asteroid near miss fly by’s of the earth. NASA & the U.S.government need to reach a solution ASAP to try to divert a potentially damaging asteroid,meteor,comet,or bolide from any possibly future earthbound course in which an impact can cause a potential disaster or catastrophe on a city or possibly the whole planet itself.Many of the experts are saying it’s not a matter of if,but when this frightening scenario will happen sometime in the future.

  26. What is the orbital period of this Big Rock from Outer Space?

    I’d assume that NASA now has that calculated already, and can give us a guess as to when, and possibly where, we may expect an impact from 2019 OK in the future. That’s a reasonable expectation.

    I think they should share, don’t you? It might send the ecohippies off the rails, running for freeze-dried food supplies, camping equipment, and maybe even seed packs stored in nitrogen (10-year life span). ‘

    ‘This Big Rock 2019OK is somewhere between 187 feet and (maybe) 430 feet in size. NASA missed it. I think they should by now have calculated its orbital period and we can prepare ourselves to go sit on a hillside, watching the skies for “INCOMING”, unlike the residents of Gomorrah, who were warned that something was coming and laughed at it. Of course, we can always hope that it impacts in one of those places where nobody lives, which is most likely, but still…. that End of the World stuff never gets tired. 🙂

  27. They should not be surprised if they knew about asteroids and the area of science, but it sounds better to be alarmed.
    Last year passed 13 objects closer than 0.2 LD. Some of them as close as 0.04 LD.
    https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/ca/

  28. so satellites that provide climate data are the same that monitor (tho not tasked for the mission) asteroids?

    do I have that right? if not, what does one have to do with the other?

    confused …

    • Chris, like most liberals, you are easily confused….It is really very simple. Option 1 – waste taxpayers money on fake AGW that will kill no one or Option 2 – invest taxpayers money into a “Space Defense System” (part of Trumps new “Space Force”) that could save millions of lives…An impact by a large object is not a matter of “If”, it it is a matter of “when and where”…

  29. Planet killers would be fairly easy to detect but would still kill us all so what would be the point other than dying in the misery created by public count down announcements as in “four hours to die…”.
    How about merely continent killers? Who gets out? And how much lead time? And what if they’re simply wrong or there’s a software error or . .

    Detection in one thing but one needs to factor in human errors, equipment errors, human nature and evacuation scenarios. For example, how long would it take to evacuate southern CA and where would the go and be housed and fed and watered, etc. The larger the object, the less need to evacuate? The smaller the object, the more practical to evacuate but is that even feasible t detect objects small enough to only threaten a small town and still have enough lead time to make a difference.

    Point is just to be able to detect is almost trivial compared to any meaningful action. We all might just be better off being “surprised” than tossing tons of money at a problem that isn’t really “solvable” in any meaningful way.

  30. Finding asteroids that are on a collision course with earth is like a man standing before a firing squad.
    You know whats coming but you can’t do anything about it.

  31. Here’s a complete archive of the effects of the Chelyabinsk asteroid, a small one that had been detected only briefly before it entered Earth’s atmosphere in February 2013. Note the most damage was to glass windows and incomplete brick construction sites. At the end of the video, people were at hospital getting shards of glass removed from their faces. The trail left behind by the meteor
    This is what you can expect from a small incoming asteroid or large incoming meteor.

  32. Best thing to do is to forget it. We have far more risk in our daily lives to worry about, so why worry about a very small risk factor such as objects from outer space. .

    As for NASA, yes by all means redirect them to Space matters, and not those best left to other agencies already doing these tasks.

    MJE VK5ELL

    • In the first instance, because it’s a good reason to defund GISS. GISS is actually harmful to humanity.

  33. So the solution is what? Immediately give Spacex a very large thermonuclear device to strap onto a big rocket to be launched at a moment’s notice to blast the approaching bolide to smitheens? Not tomorrow, but now … there’s not a moment to lose! … /sarc.

  34. This is why the whole precautionary principle aspect of the climate change debate is such a farce. Yes, there is a non-zero chance that we on the skeptical side are wrong, and that the “global average” temperature – whatever that is – will rise by 8 deg. C by 2100. There is also a non-zero chance that another Shoemaker-Levy is on its way to Earth, and how much money are we spending on asteroid defenses as opposed to climate change? We can adapt, even to the worst imagined outcomes of any of the IPCC reports. We can`t adapt to a major asteroid hit.

    • Unless we do cost-benefit analysis we can’t decide the risk. Precautionary principle, PP, disdains cost-benefit or any deep analysis. PP says if someone can imagine an existential risk then we have to treat it as if it’s real.

      PS: PP is supposed to be limited to existential risks (AKA life or death) to humanity & our environment.

  35. Earth’s orbital speed is about 30,000 km/s . That means we were about 2.5s away from a direct hit on this one.

    2019 OK, missed us by a hair, get ready for 2020 NOTOK asteroid strike.

  36. Well–Meteor Crater in Arizona exists, you can go have a look; it was a meteor about the same size, and it too exploded when and before hitting the ground. Poor Barringer never got rich despite spending his fortune in the hopes of finding a nickel-iron mine under it.

    When standing at the viewpoint on the rim, picture the Capitol Building floating at eye level halfway to the far rim. I know there is a lot of talk about the problem of ‘draining the swamp’ in American politics, an excruciatingly slow and tedious process. But vaporizing it…?

    Incidentally, when there I had some fun looking around at the distant mountains and calculating where I might have stood to be able to witness the impact, and maybe duck behind a ridge before the shockwave hit. The result was that it would not have been possible to witness the impact from anywhere and survive; anywhere within sight one would have been incinerated. I admit it was an over-a-glass-of-wine-and-cheese calculation with an old criminology-prof friend of mine in one of our camper vans, but it still seemed correct at the time.

    Maybe it was two glasses–the memory is a bit fuzzy.

      • Thanks so much, Dave; most enjoyable, and you can have no idea of the memories that brings back as the traveling companion mentioned above died this last November just 3 days after we were out to lunch together at a local restaurant that had the for-many-years normal task of shoveling the piles of BS out of the booth after we left. I am busily involved these days as his executor, and you can unfortunately have even less idea of how much HE would have enjoyed that report, and the memories it would have brought back for him.

        And damn, our wine-and-cheese calculations back then were pretty darn close!

  37. What if NASA or the Air Force did see it coming but weren’t sure whether or not it would hit? Would they just keep it quiet to avoid any futile rioting or whatever? I supposed the logistics of something like that might be difficult.

  38. I vote we send Bruce Willis and a crack team of drillers to the asteroid and blow it up.
    Alternatively we could just concentrate on AGW /climate wang and pretend we can do something about that non issue .
    Oh! We are!

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