Asteroid, Football Field Sized, Misses Earth

We’ve been pretty lucky so far. An asteroid the size of a football field was discovered a week before it passed within one million miles of Earth. This is a close shave in space terms. Another asteroid discovered could have wiped out a large city if it had landed on a populated area. Astronomers on the Canary Islands captured video of the asteroid below as it whizzed by. Planet killer asteroids are out there, so we can’t afford to ignore the problem if we want to survive.

Asteroid 2013 ET as seen from the Canary Islands on the 9th March as it sped by the Earth

A 460-foot long asteroid sped close by the Earth on Saturday night. Discovered just six days ago, asteroid 2013 ET passed 600,000 miles from Earth at 8 30pm GMT. It was about 2.5 times as far away as the moon, which in space terms is a close shave.

‘The scary part of this one is that it’s something we didn’t even know about,’ said Patrick Paolucci, president of the Slooh Space Camera, commenting on live images of the asteroid flying past taken from a telescope in the Canary Islands.

Moving at a speed of about 26,000 miles per hour, the asteroid could have wiped out a large city if it had hit the Earth, added Slooh telescope engineer Paul Cox. Two other small asteroids, both about the size of the Russian meteor, will also be in Earth’s neighborhood this weekend. Asteroid 2013 EC 20 passed just 93,000 miles away on Saturday, which Cox explained is ‘a stone’s throw’ from Earth.

On Sunday, Asteroid 2013 EN 20 will fly about 279,000 miles from Earth. Both were discovered just three days ago. ‘We know that the solar system is a busy place,’ said Cox.

‘We’re not sitting here on our pale, blue dot on our own in nice safety.’

‘This should be a wake up call to governments.’

These three are part of a series of space debris to pass near the earth recently. Asteroid 2013 ET, which passed on Saturday night, was nearly eight times larger than the bus-sized asteroid that exploded on February 15 over Chelyabinsk, Russia. The force of the explosion, equivalent to about 440 kilotons of dynamite, created a shock wave that shattered windows and damaged buildings, injuring more than 1,500 people. Later that day, another small asteroid, known as DA14, passed about 17,200 miles (27,680 km) from Earth, closer than the orbiting networks of communications and weather satellites.

NASA has been ordered by the U.S. Congress to find and track all near-Earth objects 0.62 miles or larger in diameter, and estimates about 95 percent have been identified. However, only about 10 percent of smaller asteroids have been discovered, NASA scientists have said. The effort is intended to give scientists and engineers as much time as possible to discover if an asteroid or comet is on a collision course with Earth, in hopes of sending up a spacecraft to avert catastrophe. Astronomers currently expect an object about the size of what hit Russia to strike the planet about every 100 years.

via  Mail Online.

We could use a self-building fleet of asteroid protection space robots. The self-constructing and self-repairing robots would go out and eat any asteroids that could collide with our planet, making more copies of themselves in the process. This new swarm would go back to standing watch for incoming space rocks. It’s a solid plan, NASA, let’s do it.

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