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Newly discovered asteroid just misses Earth

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Abraxas
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« on: August 31, 2016, 08:57:47 pm »

Newly discovered asteroid just misses Earth
Posted on Wednesday, 31 August, 2016




Detecting asteroids far in advance can be quite a challenge. Image Credit: NASA
An asteroid that was discovered only last week narrowly missed hitting the planet a few hours later.
NASA has long been on the lookout for killer asteroids, but even with astronomers all over the world working to detect and map the trajectories of potentially dangerous space rocks, finding every single one of these in advance is more or less an impossible task.

The reality of this became ever more evident at the weekend when an asteroid called 2016 QA2 missed the Earth by a quarter of the distance to the moon mere hours after it was first detected.

Its highly unusual orbit made it particularly difficult to spot, as did its relatively small size.

While in this case the damage caused would have been minimal even if the object had collided with our planet, this unexpected near-miss brings in to focus just how vulnerable we actually are and that, despite our best efforts, we may not always be able to see an incoming asteroid far in advance.

NASA is currently aiming to detect 90 percent of all asteroids 450ft in size or larger by 2020 but as things stand, a lack of telescopes and manpower means that it is nowhere near achieving that goal.

That said however, the chances of the Earth actually being hit by an apocalyptic asteroid anytime soon are thankfully very small indeed.
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Abraxas
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« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2016, 09:00:10 pm »

Earth Just Narrowly Missed Getting Hit by an Asteroid

​The asteroid missed the Earth by less than a quarter of the distance to the Moon.

Getty
By Avery Thompson
Aug 30, 2016




On Saturday, astronomers discovered a new asteroid, just a few hours before it almost hit us.

The asteroid is called 2016 QA2, and it missed the Earth by less than a quarter of the distance to the moon. That puts it about three times as far away from Earth as our farthest satellites. And we never saw it coming.
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So how did 2016 QA2 sneak up on us like that? For this particular asteroid, the answer seems to be that it has a very peculiar orbit. It's highly elliptical, which means it can usually be found hanging out by either Mars or Venus, but rarely ends up near Earth.

But another, more worrying reason is that there aren't a lot of people looking for potentially dangerous asteroids. While Congress has tasked NASA with finding 90 percent of asteroids 450 feet or larger by 2020, the agency is nowhere close to that goal. Funding for asteroid detection is very low, and most telescopes that could detect asteroids of this size won't come online for a few more years.
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And even if NASA was on track to meet that goal, they still would have missed 2016 QA2, which is only about 50-100 feet. Asteroids of this size are so small that there's almost nothing we can do to detect them. And they can still cause a lot of damage. The Chelyabinsk asteroid, which exploded over Russia in 2013, damaged multiple buildings and injured over 1500 people. That asteroid was only about 55 feet wide.

As far as asteroids go, we've been pretty lucky. But unless we seriously ramp up our asteroid detection capabilities, it's only a matter of time before something much worse happens.


http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/a22619/earth-narrowly-missed-by-asteroid/
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Abraxas
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« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2016, 09:09:58 pm »

Since when has 35 metres been "huge"? I wouldn't want to be in a city that was hit by such an object but this is not an object that can cause mass extinctions or global devastation. I think the space agencies do extremely well cataloguing the astroids, but of course they will never be able to spot everthing, especially the smaller ones. At the end of the day if an asteroids going to hit, lets just hope its somewhere unpopulated.
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