JoNova

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Space is full of rocks. We’ve found 27,000 near Earth Asteroids (so far)

Back in the eighties people laughed at scientists who talked about the threat from asteroids. Then we got better tools, and started tracking them. Now we are finding more every night.

Not only are there 27,000 near Earth asteroids that we know of, in the rest of the solar system we have found a few more, like 750,000. All this since the late 1990s.

Some computer somewhere is tracking all those orbits and arcs into the future. How often do these rocks run into each other and generate surprises?

Just how many threatening asteroids are there? It’s complicated.

By 

“If you talk to the scientists who were studying this in the ’80s, there’s a phrase they often refer to called the giggle factor,” Carrie Nugent, a planetary scientist at Olin College in Massachusetts, told Space.com. “They’re basically saying that they couldn’t talk about this scientific topic without people kind of laughing at them.”

It looks like we’ve probably found all the big one-kilometer-wide asteroids that might pose a problem. And the little rocks will just burn up on entry. So it’s the middle sized ones (140m – 1000m) that we don’t know about which pose the biggest threat.

Despite finding 27,000 near Earth objects, the experts guess that we still don’t know where 60% of the “half kilometer” type ones are.

For a change, it’s nice to talk about a science that’s not political.

If a big rock were on the way it would put Woke science back in its box.

Scientists believe they’ve found nearly all the largest asteroids — those larger than 3,300 feet (1 km) across — and know that these are the easiest to find anyway. And while tiny near-Earth asteroids are plentiful and difficult to find, they are also the most likely to fall apart harmlessly in Earth’s atmosphere.

So it’s the middle size category of asteroids — those more than 460 feet (140 meters) but less than 3,300 feet wide — that most worries planetary defense experts. “That’s where it’s more likely that an impact could happen,” Fast said. “Even with those, we’re talking maybe timescales of centuries or millennia.”

As of the end of 2020, estimates suggested scientists have found just 40% of near-Earth objects of this size; this year has added 500 to the tally. While that number is impressive, NASA’s planetary defense office estimates that at the current pace, it will take scientists 30 more years to have identified 90% of objects this size, a goal that Congress asked NASA to reach by 2020.

The dangers that lurk in the void,
Crossing paths with a vast asteroid,
An extinction event,
On destruction hell-bent,
Best nudged off its path to avoid.

–Ruairi

9.3 out of 10 based on 72 ratings

143 comments to Space is full of rocks. We’ve found 27,000 near Earth Asteroids (so far)

  • #
    John Hultquist

    Add in all the rocks atop politicians shoulders and you are talking big numbers.
    It is the latter that scare the schist out of me.

    280

  • #
    Jojodogfacedboy

    No shit?
    We also suffer from forward momentum of our Solar System as well as an orbital velocity around our Sun…
    We’re sort of placed like a pinball machine should our planet gets wacked.

    70

    • #
      Graeme No.3

      And don’t mention the wobbles of the barycentre.

      40

    • #
      Kneel

      Orbit around earth,about 20km/s.
      Around the Sun at earth distance, about 140km/s.

      If an object is going the opposite direction around the sun, it could hit us at >200km/s
      A small mountain at 200km/s will make a big bang when it gets to the surface – straight down, it would have about 1 second to ablate, so not much protection there. But more likely it would hit it some other angle – small enough angle it would “bounce off” the atmosphere, but past some critical angle, it would hit the surface. 70% chance that would be water. A 1,000 tonne rock at 200km/s would have enough energy to evaporate a hell of a lot of water, even ignoring the tsunami such a collision would cause.
      If it did hit land, it would do a great deal of damage and throw up a lot of dust. Then again, it could hit the Yellowstone caldera, which would be very, very bad.
      If something like that happened, I almost think I’d rather be directly under it…

      20

  • #
    Kalm Keith

    Perhaps we can look at a bit of info from the Global Warming discussion.

    It has been noted that the human presence on earth may have been overstated in terms of their heat output and associated contribution to CAGW.

    Apparently if all of the world’s cities, towns and villages were squeezed together, side by side, they could fit inside the borders of Spain.

    Yes it might be uncomfortable, but it’s only a thoughtie, not reality.

    Using that image we can see that with all humanity tucked away in that small area there’s a lot of uninhabited area left for rocks to fall out of the sky onto.

    Still, I’m glad I don’t live in Tunguska.

    110

    • #
      Ted1

      It has been settled for over 30 years that they can cause a hole in the ozone layer at the very remotest available location.

      80

      • #
        Kalm Keith

        Does that mean that after impact, the resulting dust cloud can escape back out to space through the ozone hole?

        That’s assuming that the dust can get through the almost impenetrable layer of CO2 mentioned by Clarence.

        This cycle might never end.

        40

      • #
        Wet Mountains

        Ultraviolet light strikes an 02 molecule in the upper atmosphere and splits it into two O1 atoms. O1 is electrically lonely and needs a friend. So it attaches itself to either another O2 molecule nearby or back to a lonely O1. But O3 is very unstable and breaks apart. This process repeats over and over, all very quickly. So it is logical that areas of the earth that get very little sun light at certain times of the year would have less ozone, i.e. a hole. But when spring comes ozone is once again in full production and the hole closes. So if dust is to escape back through the hole, the impact must be in winter, north or south. All this is according to what I have read and been told by the real scientist. Educate me please if I have been misinformed.

        30

        • #
          Kalm Keith

          Apologies WM.
          I doubt that the dust lifted on initial impact could get to the ozone layer.

          10

        • #
          Chris

          Not only does the O2 molecules split but also the N molecules The N and Os pair up and reflect the blue spectrum , thus producing a beautiful blue sky. Which makes us all feel good.

          10

    • #
      sophocles

      Having been involved once, Tunguska may now be the safest place on Earth … for a while.

      20

  • #
    Raving

    Used to worry about this a bit. Suffice it to say that space is a very very very empty place. Collisions and perturbations should there be any, mostly took place a very long time ago.

    If it were otherwise we would detect changes in the orbits of at least some of the already catalogued objects.

    That things remain the same is reassuring

    90

  • #
    Mikky

    The science itself is not woke, but surely it would become very political in the event of a “possible” impending strike. The left would demand all sorts of things, such as massive govt spending, zero deaths, mass migration away from the impact region, and curtailment of freedoms.

    99.9% of scientists would agree, 0.1% would point out that the chance of impact is only 1 in a thousand, a new culture war would begin.

    240

    • #
      Deano

      And you’d notice an extra charge applied to your house and contents insurance tagged “Asteroid Mitigation Levy” and it would go up every year by 6 times the inflation rate due to the asteroids appearing to get bigger as they draw closer.

      50

  • #
    GlenM

    My friends and I witnessed an asteroid pass over our heads one night and so close we could smell the object after it passed. It hit ground a bit further West of us and set off a shimmering effect. Next day we got the horses out and went for a look – alas nothing. It appeared to be in a relatively flat trajectory also.

    70

  • #
    robert rosicka

    How many of these asteroids are in an orbit with the earth and then comes the question – how many moons does the earth really have ?

    60

  • #
    Peter C

    Cranbourne Meteorite
    One of the most recent Earth impacts was the Cranbourne Meteorite (near Melbourne). This was still part of aboriginal folklore at the time that Victoria was settled by Europeans about 1835.

    Travelers on the Peninsula link freeway will notice a piece of public art commemorating the Cranbourne Meteorite. Thirteen fragments have been discovered so far.

    At one time there was a display in a public park on the side of the Prince’s Hwy, Cranbourne; replicas of the meteorite fragments strung along an overhead beam. That seems to have been removed.

    110

  • #
    Robber

    If only they can discover another big rock similar to earth to relocate all the climate catastrophists. Of course it would have to have no fossil fuels, and the temperature would have to be “just right.”

    160

  • #
    Steve of Cornubia

    Doesn’t our Moon largely takes care of this for us? I can’t remember how it works, but the theory (?) is that the Moon somehow manages to deflect or intercept 99% of the big rocks coming our way and this explains why poor Moonie is so pockmarked, also why life managed to become established where it otherwise shouldn’t have.

    Or something like that.

    70

  • #
    David Maddison

    The earth being hit by a rock is a genuine and far more serious problem than the imaginary problem of anthropogenic global warming.

    That’s not to say genuine climate change isn’t a real issue. While nothing bad will happen from periods of natural warming as the Minoan, Egyptian, Roman and Medieval Warm periods show us, genuinely bad things happen during periods of natural cooling.

    The world might well be entering a cooling period now but we will be unprepared because of 1) massive propaganda but no genuine unaltered evidence that there is significant warming and 2) destruction of reliable and cheap weather-independent electricity generation.

    230

  • #
    FarmerDoug2

    Space is full of rocks

    English as it is used.

    130

  • #
    Travis T. Jones

    King Tut had a dagger made from a meteorite …

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/king-tuts-dagger-was-made-meteorite-180959294/

    Until recent science, scientists could not explain why the dagger’s metal showed no signs of rust.

    100

  • #
    anthony

    INteresting stuff. Makes me wonder how on earth (no pun intended) we got to the moon and back unscathed? Or did we? The problematic flight of Apollo 13 was said to have been caused by an electical fault. Was it not a rock whose orbit ’13 traversed, collide with and fold back a metallic casing of the outer hull of the vessel to fall across two opposing electric terminals underly the cause of the tradgedy? Highly unlikely, I’ll wager.
    Be interesting to see how the Space-Ex team engineer a solution to traversing these things, enroute to – Mars, of all places.

    50

  • #
    PeterS

    Too bad the world is wasting so much time, energy and money on the mythical CAGW hoax yet very little is even just talked about the real potential catastrophes, of which this topic is just one of them. It comes down to a variety of reasons, not the least of which are ignorance on the part of the masses and greed for more and more power and money by the elite.

    110

    • #
      David Maddison

      There is no money to be made from asteroid impact events, unlike invented global warming or genetically engineered pandemic organisms.

      110

      • #
        PeterS

        Of course. The point I was trying to make is the masses ought to use discernment and realise CAGW is a hoax and a scam.

        100

        • #
          David Maddison

          The Marxists have been dumbing down the masses via the “education” system and media for at least the last 50 years. It’s Rudi Dutschke’s “long march through the institutions”. I doubt they are going to get a voluntary reality check any time soon, although it might be forced upon them, at least for the smarter ones.

          110

    • #
      Graeme No.3

      Look on the brighter side PeterS:

      A moderately larger asteroid impact smack on Canberra might solve a lot of current problems.
      I am not sure how the (surviving) media would handle it. Most would exaggerate is as a disaster, The Australian would claim that the PM’s position was rocky and Their ABC would blame it on Global Warming and all the fault of Morrison.

      50

  • #
    PeterS

    One note of caution. If the dots in the animation were drawn to scale, it wouldn’t look so scary. In other words, the model is an exaggeration due to the distortion required to emphasise the number of asteroids, not their size and how much space they occupy.

    60

  • #
    Anton

    Of the films made on this theme in the late 1990s when it entered the public consciousness, Deep Impact was far the best.

    Then there is the Carrington event…

    70

    • #
      Ian1946

      A Carrington type event could hit the earth at any time. The last one was before the electrical era but it did massive damage to telegraph networks. A similar event now would destroy the electricity grid, knock out satellites etc. imagine a world with no Twitter or Facebook or surveillance systems. The lefties would have a collective breakdown.

      90

  • #
    David Maddison

    Unlike the anthropogenic global warming fraud and the bioweapon, both of which enterprises are highly profitable for the Elites along with the useful idiots of the Left, a major asteroid impact would destroy much or all of civilisation and thus the power base of the Elites.

    They have no interest in creating awareness of asteroid impacts simply because there is no money to be made or power to be acquired. And in any case, perhaps the masses can only tolerate two engineered crises at a time, a third would be just too much.

    50

  • #

    Jo- I started reading this and thought you were going to lead into the DART mission that is launching right now.

    Here is a popular science article on it (which has links to sources)

    https://earthsky.org/space/dart-mission-strike-move-asteroid-launch-2021/

    In summary NASA is smashing a small object into an asteroid (Didymos B) and observing the orbital changes.

    63

    • #
      MP

      Me again.

      I know what you’re thinking. If NASA pushes Didymos B off its regular orbit, could it cause the moonlet – or its larger parent asteroid Didymos – into a new path that could possibly be a bigger threat to Earth? These scientists said no,

      I feel so much better knowing scientists say.

      What could go wrong with flying a bunch of tin foil into a rock, should just buff that out. The big problem is getting that tin foil from us protesters.

      51

      • #
        sophocles

        You will notice that NASA is not issuing crash helmets at all anywhere. Is that a good or a bad sign?

        30

      • #
        MP

        I ‘ve figured out the design flaws in their tin craft.

        They need to scale it to a Boeing 757, this design has been proven in testing to penetrate through Concrete and steel without losing mass, it will turn the target into dust.
        The two of the three tests conducted to date have conclusively proven this.

        Love science.

        32

  • #
    David Maddison

    On the subject of unknown solar system objects, don’t forget the serious possibility of Planet Nine.

    Planet Nine is a hypothetical planet in the outer region of the Solar System. Its gravitational effects could explain the peculiar clustering of orbits for a group of extreme trans-Neptunian objects, bodies beyond Neptune that orbit the Sun at distances averaging more than 250 times that of the Earth. Wikipedia

    51

    • #
      Ian Hill

      Planet Nine is already taken (Pluto – with five satellites no less). It will have to be Planet Nine and Three Quarters!

      40

      • #
        Anton

        On the basis that it orbits in the opposite direction from the other 8, has an orbit at a much greater angle to the ecliptic plane and wirh much larger eccentricity, astronomers decided not to classify Pluto as a planet a few years ago. This is solely a matter of definition but I’d say they got it right.

        00

        • #
          Ian Hill

          On the basis that it orbits in the opposite direction from the other 8

          Could you check that one please Anton?

          Poor Pluto was doing OK until they found bigger rocks further out. Booted out of the Sun’s first family because it wasn’t as effective a vacuum cleaner as its bigger brothers and sisters. Did anyone consider that it had to cover much more territory than the others? Look at Mercury’s little orbit – gets the job done every three months whereas Pluto needs 250 years! Plenty of time for debris to sneak back in. And Mercury has no family of its own whereas Pluto has five! I rest my case.

          20

  • #
    David Maddison

    Here is a NASA list of the next five close asteroid encounters with earth.

    https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroid-watch/next-five-approaches

    11

    • #
      Graeme No.3

      Plan 9 from Outer Space
      “The epitome of so-bad-it’s-good cinema, Plan 9 From Outer Space is an unintentionally hilarious sci-fi “thriller” from anti-genius Ed Wood that is justly celebrated for its staggering ineptitude.”
      Maybe it came true after all. Aliens with evil plans for mankind, resurrection of what was thought to have died, staggering ineptitude, hmm? But no sign so far (outside of P.M. Boris thinking he was Peppa Pig) no sign of hilarity.

      30

  • #
    Dave in the States

    “For a change, it’s nice to talk about a science that’s not political.”

    Yes.

    70

  • #
    Strop

    The UN has a plan to deal with Asteroids. I believe the program is called Preparation H.

    80

  • #
    Sam

    It’s a little disheartening to read that ‘it’s nice to talk about a science that’s not political’, and then to immediately politicise it in the next sentence.

    10

  • #
    Ruairi

    The dangers that lurk in the void,
    Crossing paths with a vast asteroid,
    An extinction event,
    On destruction hell-bent,
    Best nudged off its path to avoid.

    90

  • #
    Broadie

    Personally, I am not planning any events after the 6th of May 2022. There appears to be a less than 1 in 4000 chance ‘2009 JF1’ will come close to Earth. Smaller than first thought and no doubt subject to pertubations as it nears the Sun, the timing looks OK for this side of the world at the moment.

    Jo’s ‘Monkey with a computer’ John Cullen is on to it and has commented on the meteor impact in Nigeria in 2020.

    Buying wines that are best swilled before the 6th of May 2022 just in case. Plus a stash of Rum for use on wounds and a face mask (nice to have a real use for one for a change) for the dust

    10

  • #
    Doc

    Think I might prefer to put up with woke than a rock.

    10

    • #
      Interested

      Yes Doc.
      ‘Wokeness’ is no more than a mental disorder; present only in the (nominal) ‘minds’ of the globalist-totalitarian / climate-alarmist / gender-cacophony bubbleheads.
      On the other hand, BIG rocks, travelling at multiple-km/sec velocities are actually real.

      30

  • #
    RoHa

    Shouldn’t we do something about this? Put solar panels on them? Or maybe a tax?

    50

  • #
    Will

    To all of this (and I quite enjoyed reading all of the above. Well Done!) the other often neglected fact is that our sun rotates about the galaxy as well and at least one authority (a real one) has found a possible relationship between past near extermination events and the position of the sun at that time. Apparently, there are some major potholes in the road around the galaxy. Must be a socialist council.

    70

    • #
      Interested

      Quite right, Will.
      I believe you’re referring to the oscillation of the solar system, above and below the plane of the galaxy, as the Sun moves on its regular 250-million-year jaunt around the galactic centre. It’s debatable, not accepted by all, but the times when the Sun passes through the galactic plane have been associated with (delayed) increases in damaging impacts and climatic changes on Earth.
      Most ‘climate change’ morons know little or nothing about any of this ….. or anything else for that matter.

      50

  • #
    Jonesy

    I would hazard this has been answered. Asteroid belt and all these near earth objects, one wonders if they were ever a proto planet that didn’t coalesce or was broken up by gravitational effect of Jupiter and Sun?

    20

    • #
      Will

      As a child I read that there had been a proto planet between Mars and Jupiter and that the asteroid belt there was the result of such being pulled apart as Jupiter finally coalesced into a gas giant. Not certain if that is still accepted fact.

      50

      • #
        Peter C

        According to the Titius Bode Law of planetary distances, a planet ought to exist between Mars and Jupiter.
        Instead we find a lot of rocks (the asteroid belt)
        http://www.spaceacademy.net.au/library/notes/bode.htm

        The reference I give dismisses the Bode hypothesis.
        However I am inclined to give it credence and instead look for alternative reasons;
        1. for the failure of the asteroids to coalesce into a planet and
        2. the anomalies relating to the planet Neptune.

        40

  • #
    Broadie

    Duck!!! on the 6th of May 2022

    2009JF1

    20

  • #
    KP

    Off-topic, but important to us customers in the bar here, the international Govt push to censor the internet and declare unwelcome views as terrorism is being discussed-

    “The International Grand Committee on Disinformation1 (IGCD) consists of “an international array of legislators, policy advisers, and other experts” who work together “to forge international alliances that bring shared, effective strategies into the battle against online disinformation.” ……….
    The first session of the IGCD took place at the end of November 2018, so they’ve been quietly working in the background for some time already.

    Since then, they’ve held meetings in Canada and the U.K. and hosted seminars in the U.S., attended by spiritual leaders, journalists, technology executives, “subject matter experts” and parliamentary leaders from 21 countries (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Mexico, Morocco, Singapore, St. Lucia, Sweden, the U.K. and the U.S.)

    The IGCD helps shed light on the technocracy front group known as the Centers for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH),3 seeing how one of the CCDH’s board members, Damian Collins MP, is also one of the founders of the IGCD. Both groups were formed in 2018 and clearly have the same goals and agenda.

    One of those goals is to eliminate free speech online, which is what the U.K.’s proposed “Online Safety Bill” would achieve. Not surprisingly, Collins is part of the Online Safety Bill Committee, charged with examining the Bill “line by line to make sure it is fit for purpose.”4

    Collins asked for the public’s help to track down counternarratives, taking screenshots of the offending material and emailing it to him. “Unless harmful content is reported, whether it is terrible images of self-harm, violent or extremist content or anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, it can otherwise be unknowable to regulators and governments,” he said.

    It’s impossible to miss the fact that Collins is lumping “anti-vaccine” content in with violent and extremist content that must be censored and, in reality, that’s probably one of the top categories of information this bill seeks to control.

    As reported by iNews,5 “The Prime Minister [Boris Johnson] has repeatedly insisted the powers contained within the legislation would help crack down on … anti-vaccine disinformation.”
    ———-

    Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Health Misinformation Act, introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., would suspend Communications Decency Act Section 230 protections in instances where social media networks are found to boost “anti-vaccine conspiracies,” and hold them liable for such content. In a July 22, 2021, article, Tech Crunch reported:7

    “The bill would specifically alter Section 230’s language to revoke liability protections in the case of ‘health misinformation that is created or developed through the interactive computer service’ if that misinformation is amplified through an algorithm.

    The proposed exception would only kick in during a declared national public health crisis, like the advent of COVID-19, and wouldn’t apply in normal times. The bill would task the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with defining health misinformation.”
    ———–

    ..and so on, anything will do so long as it gives Govts the power to censor views they don’t like.

    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/11/joseph-mercola/global-organization-attempts-to-end-free-speech-worldwide/

    60

    • #
      Kalm Keith

      Aaaargh!

      They want us hog tied and mesmerised into vapid docility; but we are pushing together with the FDFBS response team that is sure to make a difference.

      30

    • #
      John+R+Smith

      Let’s Go Brandon

      (Brandon is my neighbor’s cat, I’m watching him chase a squirrel in my back yard.)

      I wish we could get my local government to dislike potholes.
      But I totally support their freedom to choose whatever government official identity they feel they were born with.
      Because rainbows.
      I believe in Science.

      Just practicing.

      50

  • #
    Eddie

    Astrophysics Rock God called out for his virtuoso signalling. 😄

    “Susanna Reid called out Brian May for having a gas fire despite being a climate change campaigner during Tuesday’s Good Morning Britain.”

    https://videos.dailymail.co.uk/video/mol/2021/11/23/4374739660060839365/480x270_MP4_4374739660060839365.mp4

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-10233849/Is-eco-friendly-Susanna-Reid-questions-Brian-gas-fire-Surrey-home.html

    30

  • #
    Deano

    This forum has some incredibly well informed, good looking, funny, successful and popular people with wash-board stomachs and perfect hair (and that’s just me!), so I’d like to know if it’s generally agreed here that the ‘Tunguska event’ in Russia back in 1908 was the result of an asteroid exploding in the atmosphere as described on Wikipedia. Does anyone believe it was an early nuclear test?

    30

    • #
      Kneel

      No.
      Because it was an air blast – photos show large swathes of trees flattened outward from the centre, but left standing at ground zero. The first nuclear bombs were big and heavy, no way any plane existed in 1908 that could conceivably carry such a device.

      10

  • #
    CHRIS

    Manhattan Project was 35 years into the future, so Tunguska was a meteorite, and NOT an early nuclear test. WRT to the asteroids currently orbiting the Solar System, the Earth may encounter a medium-sized one in the future, but…so what? The Earth is subject to earthquakes/volcanic eruptions/asteroid strikes/ Continental Drift…these have been a major part in the Earth’s history, unlike the miniscule rise in CO2 levels in recent times. The sooner humans realise that they are nothing in the scheme of the Earth’s 4.5 billion years history, the better.

    60