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Three-mile-wide asteroid to pass by the Earth

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I'm guessing this is observable with binos.

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The maximum magnitude of the asteroid 3122 Florence, at Earth approach, is given as 14.1.  That would require at least an 8 inch telescope, under ideal conditions, otherwise, something larger.

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Posted (edited)

The name makes sense to me.  Name something that can be deviststing and take lives after a person that worked to save lives.  They should have names it Adolf or Genghis or some other mass murderer..

Edited by paperdyer
fixed spelling error.

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They will examine this asteroid, when it comes nearest, with the Arecibo and Goldstone radars. They expect to detect details down to only 10 meters (~33 feet) in diameter. In an object like this, with an average diameter of 6 or 7 kilometers, that will make for images with detail roughly comparable to analog (old style) television. 

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So what would constitute an "unsafe" distance? Seems like you either have a hit or a miss. I suppose a really close shave could take out a satellite. 

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6 hours ago, Sundew said:

So what would constitute an "unsafe" distance?

When you don't have a precise enough orbit calculated to guarantee 100% that the asteroid is going to miss the Earth.

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10 hours ago, Waspie_Dwarf said:

When you don't have a precise enough orbit calculated to guarantee 100% that the asteroid is going to miss the Earth.

That makes sense. 

Seems like there is precious little warning time for some of these rocks. I assume you have to have multiple positions over a period of days to plot a trajectory with any accuracy?

 

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I think the other reason they don't know is that if close enough our gravity could also bend the trajectory and suck it in.

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32 minutes ago, Nnicolette said:

I think the other reason they don't know is that if close enough our gravity could also bend the trajectory and suck it in.

Gravity doesn't work quite like that. Unless the asteroid is on a direct collision course with Earth it will miss.

What the gravity of Earth (or any other planet) can do is alter the orbital parameters for the asteroid AFTER it has flown by, making future orbits more difficult to calculate. This is the bending of the orbit you alluded to.

In very rare circumstances an asteroid could actually be captured and become a new, small moon.

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7 minutes ago, Waspie_Dwarf said:

In very rare circumstances an asteroid could actually be captured and become a new, small moon.

What kind of effect if any, would that produce?

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6 minutes ago, Daughter of the Nine Moons said:

What kind of effect if any, would that produce?

For an object only 3 miles across nothing noticeable on Earth, apart from a brightish fast moving star in the sky that wasn't previously there. The orbit could be stable, in which case all is fine and dandy and Earth would have two moons. Between September 2006 and June 2007 this actually happened when a tiny asteroid, 2 to 3 metres across, called 2006 RH120 temporarily entered Earth orbit.

Alternatively the orbit could be unstable. Eventually the asteroid would leave Earth orbit again and we would have had a temporary second moon. The problem would arise here if the new orbit put the asteroid on a future collision course with Earth.

A third possibility is that asteroid could be in an orbit, like that of Phobos around Mars, that spirals ever lower until it hits the planet (Phobos will hit Mars in 30 to 50 million years... or possibly be ripped apart to form a ring around the planet in the same time frame). Earth does however have extra protection from this, that Mars does not... a large pre-existing moon. If the asteroid spirals down from an orbit outside that of the moon it is likely to hit that rather than the Earth.

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That's very interesting, thanks Waspie.

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Wait we already have a tiny temporary second moon doing this for an estimated 100 years are you talking about the same one? It hasn't left has it?

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Phew!!!

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On 9/4/2017 at 5:58 PM, Nnicolette said:

Wait we already have a tiny temporary second moon doing this for an estimated 100 years

No we don't and no it hasn't

We DO have a quasi-satellite. but quasi-satellites are not actually moons. They orbit the sun in a similar way to Earth, regularly bringing them close to us, however they are not in orbit around the Earth and so are not true moons.

From the article that ROGER linked to:

Quote

As it orbits the sun, this new asteroid, designated 2016 HO3, appears to circle around Earth as well. It is too distant to be considered a true satellite of our planet, but it is the best and most stable example to date of a near-Earth companion, or "quasi-satellite."

"Since 2016 HO3 loops around our planet, but never ventures very far away as we both go around the sun, we refer to it as a quasi-satellite of Earth," said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object (NEO) Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "One other asteroid -- 2003 YN107 -- followed a similar orbital pattern for a while over 10 years ago, but it has since departed our vicinity.

 

On 9/4/2017 at 5:58 PM, Nnicolette said:

are you talking about the same one? It hasn't left has it?

No. What I said was quite clearly about an ACTUAL temporary moon which HAS left Earth orbit.

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So Waspie, how close did it actually come to the Earth? Something in that article is not right, it passed by at 145 million miles, 18 times the distance of the Moon. Last time I checked I thought the moon was approximately 238000 Miles away. By their math, the Moon would be over 8 million miles away. I'm sure it passed much closer than 145 million miles.

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On 04/09/2017 at 2:30 PM, Nnicolette said:

I think the other reason they don't know is that if close enough our gravity could also bend the trajectory and suck it in.

Depends a lot on velocity and distance...

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I wonder if NASA plan on announcing every rock they can see passing by, it sure makes people edgy.

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11 hours ago, taniwha said:

I wonder if NASA plan on announcing every rock they can see passing by, it sure makes people edgy.

Yes, And speak for yourself.

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3 minutes ago, Waspie_Dwarf said:

Yes, And speak for yourself.

Is it even necessary?  Why would they go to such great lengths to let everyone in the world know what rock is passing, where it is and what time it will be there?

Should anyone even care?

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14 hours ago, rod64 said:

So Waspie, how close did it actually come to the Earth? Something in that article is not right, it passed by at 145 million miles, 18 times the distance of the Moon.

I must be missing something because I can not find that figure in the original article. It does say:

Quote

At 18 times the distance between Earth and the Moon this asteroid poses no threat our own delicate space rock, but it will still be a great opportunity for astronomers to study this orbiting space mountain up close.

and:

Quote

The asteroid isn't expected to come any closer than 7 million kilometres (4.4 million miles).

Which is about right.

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4 minutes ago, taniwha said:

Is it even necessary?  Why would they go to such great lengths to let everyone in the world know what rock is passing, where it is and what time it will be there?

Yes. How can astronomers observe objects if NASA keeps their existence secret?

 

10 minutes ago, taniwha said:

 Why would they go to such great lengths to let everyone in the world know what rock is passing, where it is and what time it will be there?

It's called learning taniwha (try it some time). In announcing the orbit of each object that passes Earth it allows for further study. Further study leads to further knowledge. NASA is also in the planetary protection business. In order to protect Earth from an asteroid threat it is necessary to detect the objects which ARE a potential threat and discount those that aren't.

 

7 minutes ago, taniwha said:

Should anyone even care?

What you personally care about is your own concern. Fortunately there are members of the human race that do care and do want to learn, that's why we no longer live in caves using stone tools.

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6 hours ago, Waspie_Dwarf said:

Yes. How can astronomers observe objects if NASA keeps their existence secret?

 

It's called learning taniwha (try it some time). In announcing the orbit of each object that passes Earth it allows for further study. Further study leads to further knowledge. NASA is also in the planetary protection business. In order to protect Earth from an asteroid threat it is necessary to detect the objects which ARE a potential threat and discount those that aren't.

 

What you personally care about is your own concern. Fortunately there are members of the human race that do care and do want to learn, that's why we no longer live in caves using stone tools.

You have more chance of twisting your ankle walking over river rocks than being hit by asteroids!

You are in more danger from a rock tumbling down in a slip than an asteroid!

You will live a more meaningful life implementing stone tools than worrying about asteroids!

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