Social Question

zensky's avatar

How fragile we are - the asteroid passes so close this time - what about next time?

Asked by zensky (13291 points ) February 15th, 2013

A near-Earth asteroid – called 2012 DA14 by astronomers – is passing very close to Earth today (February 15, 2013). Astronomers estimate that, when it’s closest to us, it’ll be within the orbit of the moon (which averages about a quarter million miles away), and closer than some high-orbiting communications satellites. 2012 DA14 will be about 17,200 miles (27,680 kilometers) away.

TGIF – Thank God it fails (to hit us).

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25 Answers

Shippy's avatar

I have always been aware of how fragile we are in terms of nature. Will we be able to see it?

zensky's avatar

Asteroid 2012 DA14 won’t be visible to the eye, but you can watch the February 15 asteroid flyby online, in real-time.

Look here for links to online viewing of asteroid 2012 DA14

ucme's avatar

There will be a “next time” eventually, a direct hit is inevitable, for now though…it’s all good.

zensky's avatar

Will 2012 DA14 strike Earth in 2020?

No. In March 2012, when a collision between 2012 DA14 and Earth in 2020 was still remotely possible, I asked astronomer Donald Yeomans to clarify the risk. Yeomans is, among other things, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In March 2012, he told EarthSky that a 2020 collision between Earth and asteroid 2012 DA14 was …

… approximately one chance in 83,000, with additional remote possibilities beyond 2020. However, by far the most likely scenario is that additional observations, especially in 2013, will allow a dramatic reduction in the orbit uncertainties and the complete elimination of the 2020 impact possibility.

It turned out they didn’t have to wait until 2013. By May, 2012, astronomers had ruled out even the remote possibility of a 2020 collision.

Still, 2012 DA14 and asteroids like it are sobering.

Source:Here

ucme's avatar

I meant some other rock, lots to look out for.

wundayatta's avatar

Another rock made a much closer flyby in the Urals last night, causing a sonic boom that broke a lot of windows that injured maybe 500 people. A lot of car alarms went off, as well.

As far as “us” being fragile? Maybe an individual is fragile, but the are more than 7 billion of us. Humanity will do just fine, thank you very much. Better than Dinosaurs, I’m guessing. Although we have a long way to go to beat their longevity record.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Look at the latest one that injured 500 people earlier, we are just not prepared, we did not even see it coming. For all we know, there is another one 100 times the size of DA14 about to slam in to us some time soon.

Half the money spent on military would be more than enough to set up a safety system. We need more telescopes, maybe some kind of detector grid we can set up, something to guard against back door asteroids, and some kind of gravity tractor or other method for getting rid of them, with backups, both for long term and short term emergency missions.

That thing that injured 500 people earlier, the injuries are just from broken glass from when the sonic boom smashed in all the windows, it was a nothing, a tiny meaningless pebble, and already more impressive to look at than the CGI meteorites in the movies. If anything slightly larger had of hit, it would have been 500 dead, not injured.

It is so arrogant and foolish, to witness the power of that tiny grain of dust that inured 500 people, and then not do anything about it to protect people in future. We got lucky this time, so better get a plan going for next time.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I choose not to live in fear, which is when my religious beliefs help keep me calm and assured. Either way, I’m good.

PhiNotPi's avatar

Does anyone know the size comparison between DA14 and the Ural meteor?

The largest problem is that it is incredibly hard to locate, identify, and track small asteroids. From what I have heard, both of these are pretty small compared to many asteroids. DA14 seems to have been the larger of the two, which explains why it was located and the other one wasn’t.

Basically, we can currently only detect large asteroids, but it doesn’t take a large asteroid to cause a lot of damage.

Seek's avatar

The Ural meteor was only about 10 tons, according to the BBC article here

Way too small for prediction. And in the grand scheme of things, this was nothing. Stuff like this happens fairly regularly. Every meteor shower has the potential to have a bigger chunk within. This is just a rock that blew up in the atmosphere. No big deal.

SomeoneElse's avatar

We really are fragile and powerless to do anything about it.
All the powerful people who rule us, facelessly, will have bunkers and sod the rest of us.
sigh I shan’t worry really as what good will that do? Nada/zilch/nothing.

ETpro's avatar

In terms of overall survival of life, we’re not that fragile at all. Earth has been around for 4,600,000,000 (4.6 billion) years now, and we’re still going. Life first emerged around 3.6 billion years ago, and it’s never been wiped clean out since. There have been several mass extinctions. Enough to make you wonder what on Earth Intelligent Design advocates are talking about. After all, 99.9% of the species that this supposedly “Intelligent Designer” invented did not make it. They are now extinct.

But how resilient is mankind in the grand scheme of things? It’s way to early to say. Modern man has only been around for something like 200,000 years, or 0.4% of Earth’s existence. If we’re smart (and the jury remains out on that) we will recognize that it is only a matter of time till some catastrophic event ends all human life on Earth, and we’ll turn our attention from how to kill one another to how to move on to parts of the Milky Way galaxy that are, at least for that time, out of harm’s way.

ucme's avatar

The Ural meteor was said to weigh as much as a double decker bus & was travelling at an estimated 33,000mph…somebody give that guy a speeding ticket!

Pachy's avatar

This fragile.

fremen_warrior's avatar

E-gad! This is SOCIAL people! Where are all the “Armageddon” jokes?!

ucme's avatar

Arma-geddon sick of hearing this one.

zensky's avatar

How will the media report the end of the world?

USA Today: WE’RE DEAD
The Wall Street Journal: DOW JONES PLUMMETS AS WORLD ENDS
National Enquirer: O.J. AND NICOLE, TOGETHER AGAIN
Playboy: GIRLS OF THE APOCALYPSE
Microsoft Systems Journal: APPLE LOSES MARKET SHARE
Victoria’s Secret Catalog: OUR FINAL SALE
Sports Illustrated: GAME OVER
Wired: THE LAST NEW THING
Rolling Stone: THE GRATEFUL DEAD REUNION TOUR
Readers Digest: BYE
Discover Magazine: HOW WILL THE EXTINCTION OF ALL LIFE AS WE KNOW IT AFFECT THE WAY WE VIEW THE COSMOS?
TV Guide: DEATH AND DAMNATION: NIELSON RATINGS SOAR!
Lady’s Home Journal: LOSE 10 LBS. BY JUDGEMENT DAY WITH OUR NEW “ARMAGEDDON” DIET!
America Online: SYSTEM TEMPORARILY DOWN. TRY CALLING BACK IN 15 MINUTES.
Inc. magazine: TEN WAYS YOU CAN PROFIT FROM THE APOCALYPSE
Microsoft’s Web Site: IF YOU DIDN’T EXPERIENCE THE RAPTURE, DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE PATCH RAPT777.EXE.
Sun: ARMAGEDDON TOLERANT SOFTWARE NOW AVAILABLE!

zensky's avatar

Let’s all tell Armageddon jokes like there’s no tomorrow.

CWOTUS's avatar

I don’t know if the current near-miss is an extinction event waiting to happen. I don’t know if it has that kind of size.

Assuming it does have that kind of mass and we don’t do anything about it (or leave en masse) before then, then when it hits (since it’s just a matter of time, after all) the planet will be temporarily uninhabitable by above-ground organisms (and most of the subterranean and aquatic ones, too), and a lot of planetary history will be reset to zero.

mattbrowne's avatar

Next time we deflect it if necessary.

mattbrowne's avatar

I heard that two ideas are worth pursuing:

1) Fixing a large fully fueled rocket on the surface upside down and letting it burn
2) Installing large solar sails using momentum of solar wind

Nuclear explosions are two unpredictable.

Seek's avatar

I’ve heard Phil Plait talk about shooting a rocket past the thing, and making the asteroid ride its wake. That can alter the thing’s path enough to miss us, without risking breaking it up and causing smaller, more widespread impacts.

mattbrowne's avatar

“Ride its wake” meaning using the gravity involved?

Seek's avatar

Yessiree-Bob.

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