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Space & Astronomy

Newly discovered asteroid just misses Earth

By T.K. Randall
August 31, 2016 · Comment icon 13 comments

Detecting asteroids far in advance can be quite a challenge. Image Credit: NASA
An asteroid that was discovered only last week narrowly missed hitting the planet a few hours later.
NASA has long been on the lookout for killer asteroids, but even with astronomers all over the world working to detect and map the trajectories of potentially dangerous space rocks, finding every single one of these in advance is more or less an impossible task.

The reality of this became ever more evident at the weekend when an asteroid called 2016 QA2 missed the Earth by a quarter of the distance to the moon mere hours after it was first detected.

Its highly unusual orbit made it particularly difficult to spot, as did its relatively small size.
While in this case the damage caused would have been minimal even if the object had collided with our planet, this unexpected near-miss brings in to focus just how vulnerable we actually are and that, despite our best efforts, we may not always be able to see an incoming asteroid far in advance.

NASA is currently aiming to detect 90 percent of all asteroids 450ft in size or larger by 2020 but as things stand, a lack of telescopes and manpower means that it is nowhere near achieving that goal.

That said however, the chances of the Earth actually being hit by an apocalyptic asteroid anytime soon are thankfully very small indeed.

Source: Popular Mechanics | Comments (13)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Gecks 8 years ago
I think the space agencies do extremely well cataloguing the astroids, but of course they will never be able to spot everthing, especially the smaller ones. At the end of the day if an asteroids going to hit, lets just hope its somewhere unpopulated. In saying that NASA, if you could change the trajectory of one and aim it at my work....that would be great!
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 8 years ago
Since when has 35 metres been "huge"? I wouldn't want to be in a city that was hit by such an object but this is not an object that can cause mass extinctions or global devastation.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Nzo 8 years ago
'That said however, the chances of the Earth actually being hit by an apocalyptic asteroid anytime soon are thankfully very small indeed.' Lets hope those are not famous last words!
Comment icon #7 Posted by MWoo7 8 years ago
Yeah it was small THANKFULLY! Mathematical Models ? kind of similar to economic graphs eh. Oh and wind. Why are they always surprised?? Then next one we might get an early warning because some kid in Hawaii had his telescope out.  Surprised , just detected HA! at least they didn't hide that fact. Like the conflicting bit
Comment icon #8 Posted by Codenwarra 8 years ago
Detected by SONEAR observatory at Oliviera in Minas Gerais, Brazil. This observatory is funded and maintained by amateur astronomers. So, nothing much to do with NASA or ESA. I'll sit corrected but I believed that the co-ordination centre for asteroids is in Spain and is not primarily a NASA operation. I don't know what kind of telescopes are needed for this but I suggest that they would have to be reasonably large and therefore pretty scarce. If there were three times as many and manned all the time there is still no guarantee that they would detect everything because of cloudy weather.
Comment icon #9 Posted by universal skeptic 8 years ago
Wow! That was a close one! What about the next one? Should we be afraid?
Comment icon #10 Posted by paperdyer 8 years ago
You've been watching scifi movies again, haven't you.  I can't remember the name of the one where the kid finds the chunk that's going to hit Earth.
Comment icon #11 Posted by MWoo7 8 years ago
HA~ ! ah no I was just making light of it, I remember projects regarding weather or oil spills etc. simulations that each team slightly changed a var (params / variable)here and there till it came out right or only using certain parts of data to get a certain look to a graph, ever read ? oh I hate that, can't remember, author was Crighton ? ..... about media wars climate change global this and that, very detailed book, oh Micheal and title was like ? State of or ? something state. So, there's actually is a movie where a kid seen an asteroid ? HA! wouldn't doubt it.
Comment icon #12 Posted by draco inquisitorem 8 years ago
Hmm. Would it be possible that the reason they missed it was because it was a small one? One big enough to have immense destructive capabilities would be more noticeable, right?
Comment icon #13 Posted by MWoo7 8 years ago
Oh right on RIGHT ON there draco inquisitor I agreee, weeeeeeell I hope and wish that you are wholly correct. I can't stand the thought that some say oh we are scanning and we would see something, when in reality, they fly by earth all the time and we didn't even have a clue, well until it was right on us, like a few hours etc. So , in that regard I so so wish that you are 100 percent correct. Thanks for your two bits. Very important.


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