NEO (Near Earth Objects): Asteroids, Comets, Space Junk
The only way for any species to survive...
- start evolving intelligence ASAP after the cosmic event that destroyed your predecessors (the dinosaurs in our case which
were exterminated 66 million years ago)
- develop space-faring technology ASAP then put checks in place to prevent the next cosmic event from destroying you
While it is debatable how much progress we've made on point #1, we've made virtually no progress on point #2 (sure we've
started to observe1 but we've only taken a few "baby steps" when it comes to flying in space2). For less
than 10 million dollars a year, a formal world wide consortium3 of astronomers could be doing a better job of
searching for asteroids and comets which will eventually destroy some of, or all, human culture if we do nothing. The loss of
life notwithstanding, what price would you place on the loss of any of the following examples: the Kaaba in Saudi Arabia, the Taj Mahal
in India, the Parthenon in Greece, the Pantheon in Rome, the Leaning
Tower of Pisa, the Sphinx, the Pyramids, or Stonehenge just to
name a few? Visit B612 Foundation for more information on averting
- CCD based automated observatories like MIT's LINEAR and others are cranking out
- The U.S. Space Shuttle Fleet was permanently retired in 2011. Americans last went to the moon in December 1972 and appear
to be unwilling or unable to return.
- This can't be done by just one country. Bad weather has been known to stop viewing at LINEAR for 3-4 week periods in New
Mexico. Also, asteroid viewing is only done at night which means that daylight portions of the sky can only be done by
observatories on the other side of the Earth. We can't wait until the shifting seasons allow western observatories access to a
different night sky because the asteroid positions change too rapidly.
- Funding from the Planetary Society Shoemaker NEO Grant
enabled La Sagra Observatory in Spain to detect 2012 DA14
(some) Asteroid Facts
- A 10 km (6.2 mi) asteroid struck the Earth at
Chicxulub Crater just north of the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago (recently revised to 66) resulting in:
- the death of all large animals unable to find cover (sharks, crocodiles, turtles, etc. where not affected)
- the extinction of the dinosaurs
- A 1 km (.62 mi) diameter asteroid would completely incinerate a city the size of Toronto causing severe damage over a much
- On 1908-06-30, a 50 m (150 ft) diameter asteroid leveled more than 1,000,000 hectares (2.4 million acres) of forest in
Tunguska, Siberia. It is believed that the force was the equivalent of a 3.5 megaton nuclear blast. Statistically, Tunguska
class objects will hit the Earth every 200 years.
- On 2002-06-14, a 70 m (230 ft) diameter asteroid, known as Asteroid 2002 MN, missed the Earth by
119,000 km (74,000 mi) and wasn't noticed until several days after it passed by because it approached Earth from the direction
of the Sun.
- On 2002-06-25 it was announced that a 2 km (1.2 mi) diameter object, known as Asteroid 2002 NT7,
has a 10% chance of striking the Earth on 2019-02-01. If it hits, it will cause major
damage. It should be pointed out that if any object came close to the Earth in 2002, while the whole US space shuttle
fleet grounded (because of cracked fuel lines), mankind could do nothing about it. Update: on
2002-07-01 NASA announced that additional observations of Asteroid 2002 NT7 prove that there is no
chance of it hitting the Earth in the next 100 years.
- On 2002.08.18 an 800 meter diameter object called Asteroid 2002 NY40 will make a close approach
to Earth and be visible to the naked eye starting on the day before just south of the star Vega (in the constellation of
- On 2002-04-05 the journal "Science" reported that precision measurements and orbital calculations of Asteroid
29075 (a.k.a. Asteroid 1950 DA) predict that this NEO has the greater probability of striking the Earth than any
other known object. The good news is that the event shouldn't happen until 2880. But this is only a statistical projection;
another impact could happen TODAY
- 1,037 objects in the list as of 2020-03-28
- https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/ NASA Near Earth Orbit (NEO) Program
- https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/sentry/ Sentry Risk Table
- this so-called system doesn't collect new information; it does crunch numbers from other published sources
- 1,105 objects in this list as of 2020-03-28
- https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/ca/ Close Approach Tables (past +
- 24,127 objects in the list as of 2020-03-28
- 9,444 objects (future as of 2020-03-28)
- 105 objects within 12 months of 2020-03-28
- Orbital Animations
- 2013 Impact Risk: orbital diagram for 2012
DA14 (2013-02-15; approach was 27,743 km which went under the geosynchronous orbit of Earth's communications
- 2019 Impact Risk: orbital diagram for 2002
- 2029 and 2036: orbital diagram for 99942
Apophis (2004 MN4)
- 2880 Impact Risk: orbital diagram for
- WISE Revises Numbers of Asteroids Near Earth
- B612 Foundation
2013 Update (the year of some very close calls)
Near Earth Objects
(comets and asteroids) are a clear and present danger to all human culture
as well as Earth's current biosphere
- If dinosaurs had developed technology then they could have protected themselves from the asteroid strike associated with Chicxulub Crater on the coast of Yucatan, Mexico.
- Humanity has developed the necessary technology but political-ideological pressures have neutered NASA's ability to proceed
beyond primitive NEO detection.
- Developing and implementing planetary protection technology just may be an evolutionary survival
prerequisite (so Tea Party thinking will doom us
all). Think of this as a protective immune system for the whole planet.
- NASA NEO links
- Mark your calendars for February 15, 2013 when asteroid 2012 DA14 (a.k.a. 367943 Duende) will pass under the orbit of Earth's geosynchronous
While this rock is only 50 m (~ 150 ft) wide, remember that similarly sized rocks were responsible for:
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwidzVHvbGI (NASA video)
- It is expected to pass over Indonesia at 14:30 EST
- If it were to impact the Earth (but it will not), the estimated energy release would be 3.5 megatons tons of TNT (220
times bigger than the Little Boy bomb dropped on Japan at the end of WW2)
- the 1908 Tunguska Event in Russia
- as well as Meteor Crater approximately 43 miles (69 km) east of Flagstaff, Arizona.
- Oops, on the morning of February 15, 2013 while we were waiting
for the approach of 2012 DA14, an asteroid approximately 15 m in size
became an air-bursting meteor in an event now known as
Chelyabinsk meteor. More than 1,200 people were injured by shock waves to buildings.
quote: Arthur C. Clarke coined the term in his
novel Rendezvous with Rama where SPACEGUARD was the name
of an early warning system created following a catastrophic asteroid
- B612 Foundation (who are looking for private donations so they can launch their own NEO monitoring
- promises to discover every month what all Earth bound telescopes have discovered over the last 30 years.
- I just became a member by donating $25
- Near Earth Objects and Planetary Defense documentary videos
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Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.