18 April 2009

Asteroid bound for Earth! Warn your grandchildren

Also See: http://www.topnews.in/earth-may-be-hit-asteroid-160-years-time-2122768
New Scientist
09 February 2009 by David Shiga
AN ASTEROID that had initially been deemed harmless has turned out to have a slim chance of hitting Earth in 160 years. While that might seem a distant threat, there's far less time available to deflect it off course. Asteroid 1999 RQ36 was discovered a decade ago, but it was not consideredparticularly worrisome since it has no chance of striking Earth in the next 100 years - the time frame astronomers routinely use to assess potential threats. Now, new calculations show a 1 in 1400 chance that it will strike Earthbetween 2169 and 2199, according to Andrea Milani of the University of Pisain Italy and colleagues (www.arxiv.org/abs/0901.3631).With an estimated diameter of 560 metres, 1999 RQ36 is more than twice thesize of the better-known asteroid Apophis, which has a 1 in 45,000 chance ofhitting Earth in 2036 (New Scientist, 12 July 2008, p 12). Both are large enough to unleash devastating tsunamis if they were to smash into the ocean. Although 1999 RQ36's potential collision is late in the next century, the window of opportunity to deflect it comes much sooner, prior to a series of close approaches to Earth that the asteroid will make between 2060 and 2080.

1 comment:

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