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Monday, May 20, 2013

Incoming!



There's a lot of chatter about potential incoming meteors all across the Internet. Some of the speculation seems pretty wild. I won't link to them because I lack the skill to judge the voracity of their claims.

What is real is this visible to the naked eye event that happened on the moon. It was a fairly small rock that caused all the commotion: 80 Kg or about 175 pounds. A rock that size would not look out of place in the rock wall by my garden.

The Earth has something the moon doesn't, an atmosphere. A lot of the energy from a rock that size would be absorbed before it ever hit the earth.

We have seen the effects of meteorites before, recently, in fact. The February event in Russia was quite spectacular and injured about 1500 people.

Statistically, the Earth doesn't get hit with honking big chunks of rock from space all that often. A statistician might think since we just had the Russian event, so we might be in the clear for a while.

Like I stated earlier, I'm no expert, but something about the moon event caught my attention. The lunar impact was not an isolated event, but part of a swarm that hit both the moon and the earth. Now meteors enter the earth's atmosphere all the time. Most are only detected with special instruments. Only one impact on the moon was large enough to be special, out of the whole swarm.

Here's where I'm speculating. What if the earth is moving through a particularly chunky part of space right now? What if the next swarm of rocks is significantly bigger? That would have implications for our complicated and interconnected technological civilization.

-Sixbears


13 comments:

  1. It's certainly something to think about. We can dodge the bullet only so long, ya know?

    They can really do a lot of damage when they do hit!

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    1. Not much we can do about them either. Heck, we can't even see all the ones coming in.

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  2. It only takes one to send us back to the stone age. That said, To my recollection's over the past 50 years, the last 18 months or so stand out. Due to the sheer number of reported meteor events. There is much to be understood about space and velocities,composition,size,angle of descent,as well as trajectory combine to make either a light show or a huge hole in the ground. The one in Russia was totally missed by the NEO watchers. A rogue rock, traveling at an angle from the plane of the ecliptic. Those bare watching. That russian rock would have had the energy of a Tsar Bomba if it had a near vertical angle. We were lucky as it shallow angle and actions of the atmosphere bled it dry of it's momentum/mass. Allowing it to give a spectacular sky show. Now a rock like 99942 apophis (MN 2004)hits a keyhole (2029) and everybody gonna have a bad day. It is unlikly that I will live to see if it misses or barrels in in April 13 2039 Though it's a safe bet that they will find another 36 rogues in the next 2-5 years. I do not waste time on worry, because any spot is good as another during a strike.

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    1. asteroid 1998 QE2 - May 31-
      Miss distance 15.2 LD
      Size 1.8 km
      LD means "Lunar Distance." 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256 AU. MAG is the visual magnitude of the asteroid on the date of closest approach.
      So the fear jockeys are talking out their ass when they predict this one as one to worry about. It ain't even in the ball park.

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    2. Eventually Earth will take another hit. Wouldn't it be nice to have a space program that could do something about it?

      I didn't link those "fear Jockeys" but we do seem to be in a more active time, even allowing for better detection.

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    3. `I agree, Nasa to much time protecting it's budget. That and carried away with the junk science of global warming. Until a time when our leaders will take the initiative, We are going to rely on the shielding nature provides and the comforting fact that while meteor events have wiped out entire species, they have not wiped them all out.

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    4. Maybe the Russians or the Chinese will put together a space program worth its salt.

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  3. What good is it to know about them to be able to predict their paths if we can't do anything about them. Some are solid and some are more like a pile of rock rubble. Blowing them into smaller pieces would be like getting hit with a shotgun instead of a rifle. The only salvation to prevent a huge one from hitting the earth is to gently and pesistantly over a period of time shove it to the side a little. But very early detection is a must.

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    1. Earth needs a robust space program if we are ever going to deal the the threat. It's only a matter time before something big comes in. Hopefully, a long long time.

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  4. 2013 is supposed to be an active year for suspots, too, but I don't think it's fulfilling the prediction as of yet.

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  5. just wear a target printed on your hat so that the space rocks can't miss


    Wildflower

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    1. Gee thanks! You mean my tin foil hat isn't good enough?

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