Sunday, March 4, 2012


Oh, boy, here we go again...

Massive Asteroid Threatens Earth in 2013
NASA's data shows the 60-meter asteroid, spotted by Spanish stargazers in February, will whistle by Earth in 11 months. Its trajectory will bring it within a hair’s breadth of our planet, raising fears of a possible collision. 
The asteroid, known as DA14, will pass by our planet in February 2013 at a distance of under 27,000 km (16,700 miles). This is closer than the geosynchronous orbit of some satellites.
There is a possibility the asteroid will collide with Earth, but further calculation is required to estimate the potential threat and work out how to avert possible disaster,
Look, before you rush to construct an asteroid-proof bunker and stock it with incontinence diapers, please TRY to keep this discovery in perspective.

The 2012 DA14 asteroid is only 60 meters wide (about 180 feet).  An asteroid only 180 feet in its maximum dimension is about 1/3 the size of the Canyon Diablo Meteor (which created Meteor Crater in Winslow, Arizona, about 50,000 years ago).  The Canyon Diablo Meteor is estimated to have been about 500 feet in diameter, and the crater (as it appears today) is only about a mile in diameter.

Yeah, if DA14 strikes Earth next February, it'll release about as much energy as a low-yield thermonuclear weapon, which will be quite noticeable if it impacts any land mass.  However, the Earth's surface is over 70% WATER, which means the asteroid has less than a 30% chance of impacting dry land.

I've got news for you, folks, and NASA can back this up, as can NORAD: The Earth's oceans have received more than a couple of meteors of this size before, and within the last hundred years.  NORAD has to be on constant vigil for these meteoric visitors, so we don't mistake them for actual nuclear detonations and launch a counterstrike on somebody.

Did you get that?  Earth gets hit by these asteroids fairly REGULARLY, and they fizzle into the oceans without much fanfare.  No worldwide apocalypse, no nuclear winter, not even a respectable tsunami results from these impacts.

Now, if a 180-foot meteor managed to impact a populated land mass, it might take out a very small town or do a lot of damage in a major city.  It would be pretty sensational news, but it wouldn't be any worse than the damage caused by an F5 tornado, okay?  Sure, an F5 tornado is pretty frightening to contemplate, but only in a very limited and localized sense, and it would never threaten humanity's existence.

It's when asteroids reach several MILES in size that they cause global disturbances.  And, just for the record, the notion that a 6-mile meteor exterminated the dinosaurs is just a sensational THEORY.  There's no hard evidence that an asteroid killed the dinosaurs but inexplicably didn't exterminate the much more fragile amphibians.  It's a more likely theory that communicable DISEASE killed off the dinosaurs, not some overblown Hollywood horror such as an asteroid.

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