Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Too Close for Comfort

Bloody hell. I caught this out of the corner of my eye on a recent news report but didn't follow up on it. So, from The Register:

A vast, inky black sphere approximately the size of a nuclear aircraft carrier is plunging through the void of space towards planet Earth, though NASA rather panickily insists that it will definitely not smash into our planet with devastating force.

"The asteroid safely will safely fly past our planet slightly closer than the moon's orbit on Nov 8", says a NASA statement issued yesterday (our emphasis), perhaps indicating a certain level of flap at the space agency's press office.



Now excuse me 'slightly closer than the moon's orbit'! In astronomical terms that's what called too fucking close for comfort. No wonder there's a bit of buttock clenching going on, and that'll increase if someone's calculations are a bit off. Of course, if this 'blacker than charcoal object' were to slightly alter its course and fall into orbit around Earth I suspect there'll be a bit of pants filling too.

10 comments:

Ramon Rozas III said...

"fall into orbit..."

Pants-filling and yet strangely exhilirating! It doesn't automatically have to be bad First Contact, right? :)

Neal Asher said...

Take your pick: cuddly ETs or a colony of Gieger aliens. Or maybe a hollowed-out asteroid filled with a prador first-contact team.

alibaba said...

Maybe they're here to take the royal family back to Reptilia.

Jay said...

With space bring so mind boggling big and our stellar viewing time so small it's amazing just how many pices of rock we observe zipping past us.

Rod said...

I honestly wouldn't worry about. In fact, it's been rather quiet this month. Last month there where 4 that passed within the orbit of the Moon and September had 3. And most of those where even closer to the Earth than 2005 YU55 (the Nov 08 NEO).

Phil M said...

"A Prador first contact team", that would stop everyone worrying about Euros!!

Not the most exciting webcast, but it's still in sight

http://keckobservatory.org/news/live_webcast_keck_telescope_to_watch_asteroid_flyby/

Neal Asher said...

alibaba, somewhere deep in this blog you'll find a picture of the cameroid with reptile skin showing through his face.

Jay, yes, there's a lot out there and in a moment one of them could deliver our wake-up call.

I wasn't worrying, Rod, I just think it's fascinating. Were those other chunks as this one was described 'as large as an aircraft carrier'?

Phil M, it would be nice if they sent their ambassador to Brussels.

Rod said...

The others where small, compared to yesterdays. A couple could have had final moments as multi-kiloton explosions had they entered the atmosphere.

2005 YU55 would be a real day-spoiler, if it hit. A ~4 mile wide crater and mag 7 earthquake.

the ESA are hoping to get a asteroid deflection test mission off the ground (;))in a couple of years time. Once we have proved we can move asteroids around, we can really start having fun.

Graeme said...

Does filling your pants protect you from meteorite impacts? And if so what do you fill your pants with? Is this why the dinosaurs died out? because the fossil record shows no evidence of clothes, in particular pants? thus they had nothing to fill.

Or have I got the wroong end of the stick?

Graeme said...

Typing and eating... sure fire route to poor spellig.