Space Oddity; Asteroid 2009 DD45

Posted in Science by jukeboxparables on March 5, 2009

Perhaps I should be making a Steve Tyler inspired Aerosmith/Armageddon reference instead of Bowie, but meh.

I’m not sure why this wasn’t all over the news (or perhaps I missed it) But at 5:44am Pacific time on March 2nd an Asteroid believed to be between 21 and 47 meters in diameter[1] missed our Earth by 70,000km. This puts it firmly in the NEO category (Near Earth Object) This distance sounds pretty far but It’s only about twice the distance at which geosynchronous satellites orbit. In other words… as close as it gets.

If it did hit, It would’ve landed in the Pacific Ocean near Tahiti[1] What’s the harm? Well It’s being compared in size to the object that leveled Tunguska in 1908. This can’t be exactly accurate since the exact size of that Asteroid is unknown though that object did level over 2,100 square km of forest[2]. That’s about 1/6th of the greater Sydney area. But of course this thing was slated to land in the Ocean. So I suppose I should be talking big big waves instead!

In the movies we get a few months warning so the government can build special shelters, or NASA can send Bruce Willis up in a modified Space-shuttle to avert disaster but in reality; There is no well funded government program actively searching for Asteroids and it was Rob McNaught at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia who discovered this thing when it was a dim speck about 1.5 million kilometers away[1]. A mere 2 days before it whizzed by. Scary ehh?, perhaps Mr Willis had something to do with it after all..

And before you ask. A meteor is the trail a meteoroid leaves in the sky when entering our atmosphere (those things we call shooting stars) theyre only hand to boulder sized rocks. Asteroids are designated as anything bigger than that (but smaller than planetoids)

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[1] Space Rock Swoops by Earth. (2009) Planetary News 2009. The Planetary Society. (accessed 05/03/09) http://planetary.org/news/2009/0302_Space_Rock_Swoops_by_Earth.html
[2] Wikipedia. (accessed 05/03/09) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunguska_event

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