NASA Tells Us Not To Panic Over Asteroids - InformationWeek

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8/21/2015
01:05 PM
Nathan Eddy
Nathan Eddy
Commentary
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NASA Tells Us Not To Panic Over Asteroids

NASA continues its public service of reminding us all not to panic over misleading reports of our impending doom.

10 NASA Images That Will Inspire You
10 NASA Images That Will Inspire You
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In between viral videos of Terminator-style rescue robots and iPad Pro rumors, you may have missed the hysteria roiling the Internet over our impeding doom following reports that an asteroid is due to strike the planet between Sept. 15 and 28.

The friendly scientists at NASA have taken some time off from decoding the volumes of data beamed back from their wildly successful New Horizons mission to Pluto to reassure us all that -- don't panic -- we're not in any real danger.

Those "reports" suggested that sometime in mid to late September, an asteroid would smash into the planet around Puerto Rico, causing wanton destruction to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States and Mexico, as well as Central and South America.

"There is no scientific basis -- not one shred of evidence -- that an asteroid or any other celestial object will impact Earth on those dates," Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, wrote in a statement posted to the agency's website.

(Image: solarseven/iStockphoto)

(Image: solarseven/iStockphoto)

The release went on to clarify that all known "Potentially Hazardous Asteroids" have less than a 0.01% chance of impacting Earth in the next 100 years, suggesting fans of Armageddon and Deep Impact will have to wait awhile for their serving of disaster porn.

"If there were any object large enough to do that type of destruction in September, we would have seen something of it by now," Chodas stated.

This is actually the second time in as many months that the space agency has issued a statement concerning asteroids. On the last day in July, NASA released stunning video of a "Space Peanut" that passed by just 4.5 million miles from Earth -- about 19 times the distance from Earth to the moon.

Scientists used two giant, Earth-based radio telescopes to bounce radar signals off a passing asteroid and produce images of the peanut-shaped body as it approached close to our planet, which NASA said appears to be a contact binary -- an asteroid with two lobes that are stuck together.

The flyby was the closest approach the asteroid will make to Earth for about the next 40 years. The next time it will approach Earth this closely is in 2054, at approximately the same distance as July's (relatively) close encounter.

In case you needed additional reassurance, NASA reminded us all that it detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets passing 30 million miles of Earth using both ground- and space-based telescopes.

The Near-Earth Object Observations Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," discovers these objects, characterizes the physical nature of a subset of them, and predicts their paths to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

"There are no known credible impact threats to date -- only the continuous and harmless infall of meteoroids, tiny asteroids that burn up in the atmosphere," NASA reassuringly stated.

Now, everybody back to work and enjoy your weekend.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio
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Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
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9/9/2015 | 1:02:45 AM
Re: Asteroids Deflection
nomi, honestly, I am not worried a bit about this hypothetical asteroid discussion. Watch Melancholia, a film by Lars von Trier. If there will be something hitting the Earth at some point in the future, there is nothing NASA, or anyone will be able to do about it. Maybe some will board their spaceships are fly to the colonies on Mars, the Moon, or elsewhere. -Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
9/2/2015 | 5:38:45 AM
Re: Asteroids Deflection
nomi, don't worry. It's pretty unlikely that an asteriod will hit the planet in our lifetime. "There are no known credible impact threats to date -- only the continuous and harmless infall of meteoroids, tiny asteroids that burn up in the atmosphere," NASA reassuringly stated".-Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
9/2/2015 | 5:22:13 AM
Re: Asteroids Deflection
SachinEE, well, it's going to take some billion years for new asteroids to form. So, I would say that by then most likely we are going to be well gone. :D Maybe I am mistaken, though, since Google's longetivity research might advance fast, and we could find each other discussing in the Galactic Information Week then. :) -Susan
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
8/27/2015 | 7:26:27 PM
Re: How would you know?
@nomii: Well, let's also not forget that NASA is not immune to the same budgetary and political bete noirs that the private sector deals with -- and that such issues directly contributed to the 1986 Challenger disaster.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
8/27/2015 | 7:24:48 PM
Re: Asteroids Deflection
@Susan: Perhaps we'll have to go to war with other planets, eventually.

I can't wait.  ;)
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
8/27/2015 | 2:42:25 AM
Re: Asteroids Deflection
Brian, is it that now people will start blaming other planets? In any case, the only way to stop Earth from being hit by an eventual asteriod is to destroy the asteroid at some point in its trayectoria before impact. -Susan
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
8/26/2015 | 11:32:00 PM
Re: Asteroids Deflection
Re: However, dinosaurs would say that "extremely low in probability over millions of years" can be life threatening or was the extinction of dinosaurs due to a super volcano.

Or perhaps Futurama got it right.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
8/24/2015 | 4:30:24 PM
Re: How would you know?
@nomii: It certainly raises the question as to which is more developed: earth science regarding natural disasters, or space science regarding asteroid trajectories.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
8/24/2015 | 4:28:36 PM
Re: How would you know?
@Gary_EL: I'm pretty sure something like it was also the basis of at least one season of 24.  ;)
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
8/23/2015 | 11:49:36 PM
Re: How would you know?
Of course, look at the lengths Edward Snowden had to go to to reveal information on NSA/Five-Eyes government spying.
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