Asteroid may hit earth in 2014: British astronomers
September 03, 2003 08:38 IST
There is a 'slim' chance that a newly discovered asteroid -- 2003 QQ47 -- may hit Earth on March 21, 2014, British astronomers have said.
2003 QQ47 has a mass of around 2.6 billion tonnes and is 1.2 kilometres wide.
If the asteroid hits our planet, the impact would unleash force of 350,000 megatonnes, which is around eight million times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima, Japan in 1945. On impact it would be travelling at 75,000 miles an hour.
The astronomers, who use the Torino scale to rate the chances of newly discovered asteroids and comets hitting the earth, classify the chances of the asteroid hitting the earth as 'an event meriting careful monitoring'.
But they are quick to point out the probability of such a collision was just one in 909,000.
The asteroid is around one-tenth of the size of the meteor that is believed to have wiped out dinosaurs on Earth 65 million years ago, said Kevin Yates, project manager of the near-Earth object information centre in Leicestershire central England.
"As additional observations are made over the coming months, and the uncertainties decrease, asteroid 2003 QQ47 is likely to drop down the Torino scale," Yates added.
What do you think?
Should we have been better prepared after shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter? Or even Before that?
Can we stop it by the 0 Barrier?
Will it miss us?
How do you like our odds so far?
I Read this on the web several days ago and what strikes me is that they mentioned it heading this way and figured the odds of it hitting us and then clammed up somewhat. These calculations are very accurate.
ASTEROID 2003 QQ47 was first observed on Aug. 24, and based on limited data, experts at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory estimated as of early Tuesday that there was a tiny chance 1 in 909,000 that the space rock would smash into Earth on March 21, 2014.
Observations gathered on Monday night, however, allowed astronomers to plot the asteroids orbital course more precisely. By Tuesday evening, the risk for 2014 was eliminated. JPL said there was still a 1-in-2.2 million chance that an impact could occur sometime in the next century, but that is far below the background risk of a catastrophic collision in any given year.
We have many asteroids that have residual risks, Paul Chodas, a research scientist at JPL who specializes in calculating the orbits of near-Earth objects. This particular one was of interest because it is fairly large, 1.3 kilometers [0.8 mile], and the predicted impact was only 10 years away. Combining those two factors, we raised it to some level of concern.
The rock was first observed by the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research Program, also known as LINEAR.
At one time, the 2014 encounter was given a rare rating of 1 on the Torino Scale of asteroid and comet threats. But based on the additional observations, the Torino rating was reduced to zero by JPL as well as the NEODyS asteroid-monitoring group in Italy.
We expect the impact possibilities to go to zero, Chodas said. That is the usual scenario.
If a rock as big as 2003 QQ47 ever were to hit Earth, it could have the effect of millions of Hiroshima-scale atom bombs. Such impacts are thought to have contributed to mass extinctions, including the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
A forum community dedicated to tech experts and enthusiasts. Come join the discussion about articles, computer security, Mac, Microsoft, Linux, hardware, networking, gaming, reviews, accessories, and more!