Stories tagged near earth objects


Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are plentifull.

Asteroid hit.: Artist: Don Davis
Asteroid hit.: Artist: Don Davis
If a person lives to be 80, her or his odds of being around when the next multi-megaton blast from an asteroid collision occurs (somewhere on the planet) are roughly 1 in 12.5. Space within Earth's orbit is crowded with Near Earth Objects. Here is a link to a video of the movement of hundreds of NEO's (400 days).

Some recent near misses

  • On March 18, 2004, Asteroid 2004 FH passed approximately 26,500 miles above the Earth's surface (one-tenth of the distance to the Moon). Astronomers had detected it just three days before.
  • Another near earth object designated 2004 AS1 created concern on Jan 13, 2004. Initial measurements indicated that it would hit Earth within 27 hours. "Astronomers come within minutes of alerting the world to a possible asteroid strike." Wired News
  • Near Earth Asteroid 2004 MN4, briefly held a Torino Scale index of 4 (a record high) before being declared safe.

Near miss: Asteroid 2004 FH's flyby (NASA/JPL)

More Near Earth Object links

NASA impact risk assessment FAQ.
Armagh Observatory information.
NASA NEO basics. page
NASA images.


Comet breaks up near Earth: Credit for Hubble Images: NASA, ESA, H. Weaver (JHU/APL), M. Mutchler and Z. Levay (STScI)

A comet is experiencing a spectacular break up as it swings around the sun. It will be at its closest on May 12th. Don't worry! It will be 30 times further away than the moon. Comets are mostly dirty ice. As the sun heats these slush balls they often break up. Even more spectacular is when an inner pocket of vapor bursts through the surface and acts like a rocket propelling that fragment in the opposite direction.

Is this a newly discovered comet?

German astronomers Arnold Schwassmann and Arno Arthur Wachmann discovered this comet during a photographic search for asteroids in 1930, when the comet passed within 5.8 million miles of the Earth (only 24 times the Earth-Moon distance). The comet orbits the Sun every 5.4 years, but it was not seen again until 1979. Astronomers observed its initial breakup into four pieces that year. The comet was missed again in 1985 but has been observed every return since then.

Hubble still taking pictures after 16 years.

NASA and the European Space agency have released new images from the Hubble Space Telescope showing the dramatic breakup of comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3. The comet's nucleus has shattered into more than 33 pieces, and is likely to continue to disintegrate. They have even put several pictures together to create a movie of the breakup. Choose one from this page