Saturday, 10 October 2015

asteroid approach apropos apophis


Today was one of those asteroid near miss days. We had 1.5 mile wide asteroid 86666 (2000 FL 10) pass by earth. When I originally looked at some of the artist pictures, I thought it was surprisingly close to not be mentioned more prominently.

Then I noticed the distance. 15m miles. Yes 15 million miles. The moon is about 230,000 miles away, so that asteroid is more than 60 times further away.

How about Mars distance? Mars ellipses around the sun at between 141m and 228m miles. We're around 94m miles from the sun, so the closest gap between us is somewhere around 40m miles. That would make the asteroid's passing gap something like between a third and a half the distance to Mars at its closest point to earth.

They set up a global Asteroid Day this year, for the first time ever, to spend the looking for potential asteroids on track for earth. I don't think they have found any yet needing Bruce Willis (or substitute) to be called out. The Americans are building a so called space fence which goes live in 2018, but seems to be more about clearing paths for warplanes through low-earth orbit space.

The next identifies biggie asteroid moment isn;t until 2029. It's an intriguing one called Apophis, which has already passed us once recently and is coming back for a second close look.

Apophis is predicted to whizz past earth at around 24,000 miles distance, which is actually slightly closer than geostationary satellites. Given the 2,271 satellites in current orbit plus 200 defunct satellites and space debris, I guess there's a real chance that something might get pranged by that asteroid?

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