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Published:December 23rd, 2012 12:15 EST

NASA Monitoring Asteroid: Is it Headed for Earth?

By Ron G Anselm

Asteroids to our planet have always been like rounds firing from a machine-gun nest at advancing lines of soldiers. Our planet (being the advancing soldiers) is always sort of in harm`s way because we can`t just move out of the way if one-day a huge asteroid suddenly turns on a collision course aimed for the heart of our planet. There are a lot of little asteroids or should I say asteroids that are varying in size flying around out there in the wild black yonder of space . So far our planet has been safe not to get pummeled by an asteroid the size of the one that took out the dinosaurs some sixty-five billion years ago.

Over the last couple of years I have heard the stories of an asteroid flying by our neighborhood of Earth coming very close to just missing our planet. And that probably is the case on a daily basis, we don`t hear about every asteroid that speeds by Earth but NASA does more than likely know of those asteroids. They are closely monitoring their activity by keeping a watchful eye like Mommy to her infant child to make sure if one-day that king size asteroid decides to try to take us on and win we will be prepared to destroy any opposing asteroid that dares to come near or in our house and defeat us. (Sorry, kind of geared up today for the NFL games, especially the 49ERS and Seahawks that my mind suddenly focused on if I were a Head Coach gearing up and motivating my team before the opening kick of any game in football).

Anyway, back to science,  NASA scientist commented on the impacts by asteroids on Earth by saying, "The Earth has always been subject to impacts by comets and asteroids, although big hits are very rare. The last big impact was 65 million years ago, and that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Today NASA astronomers are carrying out a survey called the Spaceguard Survey to find any large near-Earth asteroids long before they hit. We have already determined that there are no threatening asteroids as large as the one that killed the dinosaurs. All this work is done openly with the discoveries posted every day on the NASA Near-Earth Object Program Office website, so you can see for yourself that nothing is predicted to hit in 2012." (nasa.com)

So, when you read about the next asteroid, just remember NASA is the watchful eye staying one-step ahead of any enemy asteroids that suddenly may turn on a collision course with our planet. One question is if there ever was or ever is an asteroid large enough that would raise concern that may one-day ne on a collision course with Earth, how would we be able to destroy it before is connected with us?

In my opinion and of course being ex-military and being around many weapon systems our military has, I have seen weapon systems that are as accurate as Chuck Norris is with his roundhouse kick to any part of his opponent`s body. Our military uses all sorts of high-tech GPS monitoring systems when taking aim at a target and is so accurate we could take out a target sitting next to a house with more fury than an angry Tiger and not harm one shingle on the roof of that house next to the destroyed target.

So, to me if we were to have to go up against a charging asteroid it would be the same concept as that old 1970s technology game called Asteroids that entertained us as kids in the many arcades we hung out in on those Saturday afternoons. The concept of the game was to have a missile silo firing at the approaching asteroids. You would take aim at an approaching asteroid by spinning the little game controller and then click the ire button and it would send a streak of a missile and destroy the asteroid plummeting to Earth. Of course technology now days are extremely advanced compared to the old game technology back in those days but you get the concept.

There is hype right now that there was supposed to be a giant asteroid that would potentially hit our planet in 2040 but NASA has calmed the paranoia by stating, "An analysis of the new data conducted by NASA`s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, shows that the risk of collision in 2040 has been eliminated," NASA declared Friday." (nasa.com)

"This particular asteroid that NASA has been monitoring is 140 meters (460 feet) in diameter, will get no closer to Earth than 890,000 kilometers (553,000 miles), or more than twice the distance to the moon," NASA said. (nasa.com)

So, as in space terms this distance may seem close to hitting us but to us it is not close enough to cause worry and panic. The asteroid which is still hanging around out there if it did collide with Earth would be like releasing about 100 megatons of energy, several thousand times more powerful than the atomic bombs that ended World War II, according to the Gemini Observatory. (nasa.com)

So, something like this would definitely wake you out of a dead sleep if it did impact us in the middle of the night or in the wee morning house when you are still sawing away ZZZZ`s in your nice warm bed but again according to NASA is not likely to happen.

Since astronomers are observing this asteroid low in the sky they have to look at it through a lot of atmosphere which distorts the view a little and makes the image fainter to see. David Tholen who is an astronomer at the University of Hawaii commented on this by saying, "The second effect is the turbulence of the atmosphere makes things fainter. We had to keep trying over and over until we got one of those nights when the atmosphere was calm." (Tholen, D.)

The size and shape of this asteroid is in sort of an elongated pattern so as this asteroid moves it rotates which makes the brightness of it when viewing it change. The problem with this is astronomers are not able to keep up with the asteroid`s rotation period, they didn`t know when it would wax and wane, and when it would grow too faint to see. (nasa.com)

David Tholen went on to comment further on this by saying, This object was changing its brightness by a factor of three or four -- it was just enormously variable.  It was hit and miss depending on which night you observed it." (Tholen, D.)

As we all wind down from the extensive drama that was supposed to take place Friday with the end of the world we can once again breathe a sigh of relief about this particular threat of an asteroid making impact with our planet and destroying it because it is not going to more than likely happen and if it does become a threat NASA is like the protector and security for us as they continue to monitor not just asteroid but the many hazards that have potential to inflict harm on Earth.

 

                                                                 Reference

Gray, M. (2012) Phew! Asteroid to Miss Earth in 2040, NASA says, CNN.

(http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/21/us/space-asteroid-threat/index.html) Retrieved December 2012.

 

 

 

 

 



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