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Asteroid 2005 YU55 in Near Miss with Earth: Doomsday Averted (again)

Posted on the 09 November 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Asteroid 2005 YU55 in near miss with Earth: Doomsday averted (again)

The asteroid in question, in all its glory.

So many things have been falling out of the sky recently, it’s a wonder that we haven’t gone the way of the dinosaurs. There was the UARS satellite; then another, the German satellite ROSAT; and now, it’s apparent, we’ve come within a rat’s whisker of being blown to smithereens by an asteroid that’s 1,300 feet wide.

Discovered six years ago by astronomers at the University of Arizona, the asteroid 2005 YU55 last popped by 200 years ago; this time it almost stayed for a cuppa, though scientists and media outlets reassured that it will not and cannot hit Earth. It’s been observed by NASA’s Deep Space Network in California, as well as another site in Puerto Rico, and is, according to The Christian Science Monitor, apparently “egg-shaped”.

“2005 YU55 cannot hit Earth, at least over the interval that we can compute the motion reliably – which extends for several hundred years,” said Lance Brenner of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, quoted on Slate.

You can’t even see it! It has a “coal black surface”, reported The Daily Mail, and travels at “30,000 mph”. But if you wanted to see it, you wouldn’t be able to anyway – you’d need a telescope, as it is “100 times dimmer” than anything we can naturally see.

Close call this time – but just you wait. It came closer to us than the moon this time, reported Slate, coming within (roughly) 202,000 miles of our lovely blue planet. Slate also looked into the possible future: if it did crash, there would apparently be a “4,000 megaton blast” as well as a massive earthquake; if it fell into the sea, there would be a giant tsunami. It wouldn’t destroy the earth, though, said The Christian Science Monitor. There’s no need to worry quite yet – the next one’s due in 2029, when another biggie will come within 18,300 miles and “by then, we’re sure, we’ll probably have lasers.”

Lots of lovely stuff to look at. Scientists are champing at the bit to observe the object, said The Christian Science Monitor, because it’s one of the “most primitive objects” still hanging around from the birth of the solar system. That’s a whopping 4.5 billion years ago. They’re carbon-rich, too, and it’s possible that meteorites coming off such objects, which crashed into the earth, formed organic compounds.

Apocalypse, no! A blog on the Discovery magazine site said that whilst there had been the usual “buzz” on conspiracy sites about the asteroid – just try searching for “YU55 doomsday”, there was actually surprisingly little “fear-mongering chatter.” Looks like we’ll have to wait for the next one, then.

Watch some thrilling footage of the asteroid here:

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