Tag Archives: asteroid

NASA Has Published Picture of Undetected Meteor

A week before Christmas last year, there was a meteor that none of us even knew about. Now it wasn’t one that put us at risk but it was a reminder of how hard it could be to miss the ones that put us at risk of the end.

On Friday, previously unreleased satellite photos of a powerful asteroid that appeared just above the Bering Sea were released by NASA after it was discovered in photos.

The explosion unleashed around 173 kilotons of energy, more than 10 times that of the atomic bomb blast over Hiroshima in World War II.

Images captured minutes after the fireball disintegrated in the atmosphere show the shadow of the meteor’s trail cast on top of clouds, elongated by the sun’s low position.

The super-heated air turns the clouds to an orange tint in the meteor’s wake.

The pictures that were taken were from two NASA instruments on board the Terre satellite.

A still image was taken at 2350 GMT, while five of the nine cameras on the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument took another sequence of photos at 2355, which NASA collated into a GIF that shows the orange trail.

NASA estimates that the meteor occurred at 23:48 GMT.

Meteors are rocks from outer space that become incandescent upon entering earth’s atmosphere as a result of friction. They are also known as shooting stars. Pieces that survive intact and hit the ground are known as meteorites, which are very common for meteor showers and are sights to see.

It was the most powerful explosion in the atmosphere since the fireball that burst over the Russian town of Chelyabinsk in 2013. That was 440 kilotons, and left 1,500 people injured, mostly from glass flying out of smashed windows.

This time around, the blast occurred over waters, hundreds of kilometers off the Russian coast.

The first photo of the event that was happening was caught by a Japanese weather satellite and was just released this week as well.

Asteroid passing “darn close” to Earth

This past Thursday was a normal day for most; you probably didn’t even notice the mobile RV passing us in space. I mean, an asteroid that came close enough to hit us.

The asteroid 2012 TC4 flew by the Earth,  about 26,000 miles away from our only home. Very close when considering the Moon is about 239,000 miles away from Earth. Rolf Densing, head of the European Space Operations Centre in Germany, called the asteroid “a close miss.”

An artist's conception of 2012 TC4 passing by Earth; photo by nowreadthisnews.com
An artist’s conception of 2012 TC4 passing by Earth; photo by nowreadthisnews.com

The asteroid had no chance of hitting the Earth but Antarctica got the closest sighting of the asteroid at 1:42 am. ET this past Thursday, October 12th.

After the discovery of the asteroid in 2012, the asteroid was too distant and faint to be detected.  The rock is roughly 45 to 100 feet, traveling at 16,000 MPH.

NASA used the asteroid’s close travel to Earth to test their planetary defense system. The drill was to see if the system were to work if an actual asteroid were heading straight to the Earth. In previous tests, NASA would use pretend asteroids. Vishnu Reddy, a NASA consultant asked, “How prepared are we for the next cosmic threat?”

He would answer his question: “So we wanted to test how ready we are for a potential impact by a hazardous asteroid.”

NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office led the drill and they are in charge of coordinating efforts to protect Earth from hazardous asteroids. They are also responsible for finding, tracking, and characterizing potentially hazardous objects coming near Earth.

In order to deflect an asteroid, the asteroid would need to be detected years in advance. The most promising techniques that NASA are investigating are the “kinetic impactor” which uses an object to hit the asteroid to get it off course and the “gravity tractor” which would gravitationally tug on an asteroid by placing a large mass over it.

The good news for you and me is that there is no known asteroid that poses a significant risk of impact in the next 100 years.

Close call, Earth

Just four days after doomsdayers claimed the end of the world was approaching, NASA revealed a giant asteroid was heading towards Earth.

On Saturday, a “monster” asteroid flew by our planet at a speed of 40,000 mph. A strike by the 1.5 mile wide heavenly body with the name 86666 (2000 FL 10) would have been catastrophic, according to NASA scientists.

On Friday, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab’s Near Earth Object Office, which tracks asteroids, said it would not come closer than 15 million miles, called a ‘near miss’. NASA issued the all-clear, confirming that the giant asteroid 86666 passed by safely.

In response to Qs, asteroid 86666 (2000 FL 10) will safely pass Earth Oct 10 by over 15 million mi/25 million km. It poses zero threat.

— Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) October 8, 2015

An asteroid almost hit Earth. Graphic from The Guardian
An asteroid almost hit Earth. Graphic from The Guardian

Asteroid 86666 was first seen 16.2 years ago on the 30th of March, 2000 by the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona. The asteroid came closest to Earth on Saturday, and by mid-November they will be far away from each other.

NASA tracks asteroids and comets passing within 30 million miles of Earth using telescopes. The JPL program keeps track of the orbits of comets and asteroids and publishes warnings if one is due to crash into Earth, or if it will come close. People can also monitor the comets and asteroids themselves by typing the name of the rock into JPL’s Small-Body Database Browser.

In August NASA was forced to issue a statement dispelling countless rumors, reports and speculations of a deadly asteroid threatening earth.

Conspiracy theorists claimed one would hit Puerto Rico in September, causing widespread destruction to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the US, Mexico and Southern America. Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object office said there was ‘no scientific basis or shred of evidence’ to confirm those rumors.

In 2011 there were rumors about the so-called ‘doomsday’ comet Elenin. Then there were assertions surrounding the end of the Mayan calendar on the 21st of December 2012, insisting the world would end with a large asteroid impact.

Earlier this year, asteroids 2004 BL86 and 2014 YB35 were also said to be on dangerous near-Earth paths, but both went without incident.

All known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids, have less than a 0.01 percent chance of hitting Earth in the next 100 years. Chance of collisions with earth is highly unlikely so there’s seemingly nothing to worry about in our lifetime.