Mar
05
2009

Asteroid comes too close for comfort

When I stumble across stories like this one about a space rock that made a close approach to Earth on Monday, I can't help but think that maybe all the bad news we've been hearing lately is not so bad after all. Sure, the economy is in shambles and everyone seems a little down on their luck, but it could be a lot worse, right? An asteroid could explode over your house with the force of 1,000 atomic bombs, much like the one that fell on Siberia just 100 years ago in something known as the Tunguska event.

Luckily this didn't happen on Monday. The asteroid known as 2009 DD45 was spotted just days earlier by scientists at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia, and on Monday it sailed by at about 49,000 miles from Earth. Phew!

If you're like me, you might be asking yourself why this wasn't front page news? One answer is that researchers only discovered the asteroid in late February, and according to astrophysicist Timothy Spahr from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, they knew within hours that it posed no threat to Earth.

2009 DD45 is just one of many near-Earth objects that researchers are keeping close tabs on. In 1999 a rating system was developed to categorize the threat of asteroids and comets called the Torino Rating Scale. On NASA's website you can see a chart of recent and upcoming "close approaches" of asteroids being tracked by researchers from around the world. There are more than you might think, but most of them are very low on the Torino scale, which means scientists predict that they pose no real threat to Earth.

Still, this brings up a good question. If there are so many near-Earth objects out there, and if we know that the Earth has been hit by asteroids many times before, is this something that we should be worried about? An earlier post on Science Buzz looks at the odds of asteroid impact. What do you think?

You can read a recent document by the United Nations Working Group on Near-Earth Objects to see how scientists and governments are working to define policies related to asteroids and the threats that they pose.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

scary

posted on Fri, 03/06/2009 - 11:45am
tess age 10 years's picture
tess age 10 years says:

i was in new orleans and luckily we got out of hurricaine katrina two weeks before it hit. i am so thankful for my famly and i survived.

posted on Fri, 03/06/2009 - 5:07pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

That is pretty scarry that it came that close to hitting our planet. I can't belive that that accutauly happen to us.

posted on Sat, 03/07/2009 - 2:25pm
dancer4ever's picture
dancer4ever says:

its so scary that it came so close to hitting us!! imagine if it landed in your backyard. thank God it didnt kill anyone!!! :)

posted on Thu, 03/19/2009 - 12:58pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

it might be scary but is still cool we just studied space is science

posted on Thu, 03/19/2009 - 2:18pm
shanai's picture
shanai says:

I agree, it IS scary - but remember that "close" in this case means 72,000 km, or a fifth of the distance between our planet and the moon.

posted on Fri, 03/20/2009 - 11:28am
bonks49's picture
bonks49 says:

I find it odd that the news didnt say much about this incident. You would think that they would say something before or while it is happening. The news didnt even say that much about this after it happend.

This stuff scares me!!!!!!

posted on Fri, 03/20/2009 - 11:34am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

where is the pictures???

posted on Sun, 03/22/2009 - 2:08pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

wow

posted on Sun, 03/22/2009 - 2:42pm
shanai's picture
shanai says:

THIS VIDEO SHOWS THE ORBIT OF 2009 DD45

AND THIS ONE SHOWS THE ASTEROID (look toward the center of the video moving from right to left)

posted on Sat, 03/28/2009 - 5:11pm
bobdabobman's picture
bobdabobman says:

Thomas Johnson

That is just plain freaky.
Just think if we were on a diff. place in the orbit bye bye earth.

posted on Sat, 03/28/2009 - 5:15pm

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