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Near Earth asteroid monitoring April 7, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Asteroids, Space.

2004 VD17

This Near Earth Asteroid stands at a 1 in 1,200 chance of impact on May 4, 2102. It has slowly inched up and down since it moved up to Torino Scale 2 at the end of Februrary.

It increased significantly since yesterday, when it stood at a 1 in 1,540 chance. The 1 in 1,200 chance is the highest it has been since attaining a two on the Torino Scale.

2004 VD17 is 580 meters across and should it impact Earth it would unleash the equivalent to 15,000 megatons of TNT and result in regional devestation.

The results for 2004 VD17 were compiled on April 5.

2004 MN4 (Apophis)

Apophis, a media darling momentarily after its discovery, has held at a steady 1 in 5,880 chance of impacting Earth on April 13, 2036

Apophis is about 320 meters across and should it impact Earth would unleash the equivalent to 880 megatons of TNT or 65,000 times the energy of the Hiroshima bomb.

Apophis has not been observed recently and the results calculated for the current impact risk of the asteroid were compiled on Feb. 27, 2006.

Other NEOs of Note

2000 SG344

2000 SG344 is a mere 40 meters across. What makes this particular space rock interesting is that it has a comparitively high cumulative probablity of striking the Earth sometime between 2068 and 2101. In fact a 1 in 556 chance, or a 99.82% chance the asteroid will miss Earth. The object sits at a Torino Scale 0, however. Because of its size, 10 meters below the threshold of objects classified by the Torino Scale, it does not warrant a Torino rating.

Interestingly enough, scientists aren’t even sure if the object is an asteroid at all, in fact it may be debris from the 1971 Apollo-era missions.

The object’s size limits the damage it could do. At 40 meters, some local damage could result, or it may not even penetrate the atmosphere if it is a loosely held together object.

A slightly larger object, say 70 meters, could probably obliterate a city, if it landed on one.

1950 DA

This is the killer, the global catastrophe. Its orbit is well known and thus NASA can predict its behavior and encounters with Earth far into the future. Watch out if you’re around in 2880.

1950 DA has the highest probability of impacting Earth of any known object. It gets no Torino Scale rating because the Torino Scale and the methods used to come to conclusions about asteroids ranked by it project only one hundred years into the future.

1950 DA is about 1.1 kilometers across and has approximately a 1 in 300 chance of impacting the Earth on March 16, 2880.

Link to Quicktime movie of 1950 DA’s rotation (Arecibo Radio Observatory)


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