The surprise from outer space

Science Daily reports today that an asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier is going to pass within a couple hundred thousand mile of earth next Monday.

“What is unique about this asteroid flyby is that we were aware of it well in advance,” Jay Melosh, a Purdue expert in impact cratering, said. “Before about 1980 we wouldn’t know about an asteroid of this size until it was already making a close pass, but now it is unlikely that such an asteroid will approach the Earth without our knowledge.”

The following question is the type that could easily come from the mind of Mary Lucia: Is this knowledge a good thing or a bad thing?

If an asteroid were on its way to hit the earth, would you want to know about it? If it were to hit, what would you be doing today?

Melosh says this particular rock would create a blast equal to 4,000 megatons and if it were to strike the ocean, it would create 70-foot-high tsunami waves 60 miles from the splashdown site.

If it struck, say, Menominee, heat from the fireball would cause extensive first-degree skin burns to everyone in the Twin Cities.

While you’re thinking about whether you’d want to know the earth was doomed in such a situation, you’ll want to be playing with this neat asteroid impact calculator.

  • Tom K

    Maybe NASA could spend some federally funded dollars on Asteroid Detection rather than building some silly and wasteful inhabited moon base or the nearly-useless International Space Station.

  • I want to know… because I want to make a run for it!

  • Tyler

    Sheesh, Tom, did you miss the second paragraph?

    “What is unique about this asteroid flyby is that we were aware of it well in advance,” Jay Melosh, a Purdue expert in impact cratering, said. “Before about 1980 we wouldn’t know about an asteroid of this size until it was already making a close pass, but now it is unlikely that such an asteroid will approach the Earth without our knowledge.”

    If you’re not going to read the link that Bob so graciously provided, maybe you’ll click THIS ONE which lists current NEO search programs. Or as you call ’em, “Astroid Detection.”

  • Bonnie

    I didn’t read the entire linked article…hopefully it talks about what will be done if they ever learn that a big one is headed our way and it WILL hit us in five or six years! Start building the giant ray gun now!

  • Alanna in MN

    Just to be curious, but did you mean Menomonie, (which is in Wisconsin and 60 miles away) not Menominee (which is in Michigan and is 292 miles away)? I’m wondering how far from the crash site you would have to be to get first degree skin burns.