SMOD Alert (with live webcast)

posted at 3:31 pm on July 22, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

For those who missed it in the headlines yesterday, a bit of a combination palate cleanser and interesting science piece. For the political angle, some of you still feeling disappointed about your options this election year may be holding out hope for the approach of the Sweet Meteor of Death. Well, this may not be it, but it’s going to come close. And you’ll get to watch it live online if you wish.

A city-block size asteroid will fly by Earth this weekend, well beyond the orbit of the moon, and you can watch it zip safely by live in an online webcast.

The asteroid 2002 AM31 will make its closest approach to Earth on Sunday, when it will pass by at a range of about 3.2 million miles (5.2 million kilometers). That’s about 13.7 times the distance between Earth and the moon.

There’s apparently still some debate over precisely how big 2002 AM31 is, but it’s definitely in the “Oh Crap” range if it were to hit us. Arecibo put it at 1,115 feet wide a little more than a week ago, but JPL pegs it at 2,600 feet. (Roughly 1/2 mile.)

We’ve seen some reports that this webcast site has run into pretty serious technical problems in the past when traffic gets too high, but hopefully this one won’t be as big as major political events. Here’s the web site info:

Sunday’s webcasts are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET and 11 p.m. ET. They can be accessed at the Slooh website: http://www.slooh.com

So 2002 AM31 is missing us… this time. But it’s clearly demonstrating that it’s on a repeating path which crosses the orbit of our planet. If you run the experiment out enough times, far enough into the future…

Just something to ponder when you go to sleep tonight. Pleasant dreams.


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What’s on the other channels ?

listens2glenn on July 22, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Is this like a SMUG alert? You know, how people who drive hybrids emit SMUG into the atmosphere, which if combined with the SMUG from George Clooney’s acceptance speech at the Oscars will create the Perfect Storm of self-satisfaction?

If there ever was a `roid that would hit Earth, I have my doubts as to if we’d be told the truth of it’s approach. Government lies to us all the time. And it’s not as if anything could be done about it anyway.

You can’t DESTROY a half mile chunk of rock even with nukes, the debris will still be there and will still hit anyway.

wildcat72 on July 22, 2012 at 3:35 PM

If you run the experiment out enough times, far enough into the future… Just something to ponder when you go to sleep tonight. Pleasant dreams.

Life is always a risk. Isn’t it grand.

chemman on July 22, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Some galactic entity is throwing rocks at Obama?

coldwarrior on July 22, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Mitt Romney earned my vote in the nationally pointless Texas primary , but if I ever hear anything about Romney’s dear friend Obama being a fine president, I’m back to SMOD ’12

Transpo on July 22, 2012 at 3:40 PM

So 2002 AM31 is missing us… this time. But it’s clearly demonstrating that it’s on a repeating path which crosses the orbit of our planet. If you run the experiment out enough times, far enough into the future…

So is the moon which is 13.7 times closer then this asteroid will be today, and the moon is moving away from us. I would rather know its actual orbit instead of pondering whether or not there will be a zombie invasion tomorrow. It is quite possible this asteroid regularly flies close to us in a quite predictable and stable manner.

NotCoach on July 22, 2012 at 3:40 PM

They coulda sent something more lethal…but for those damn gun control laws they enacted and all that.

coldwarrior on July 22, 2012 at 3:40 PM

You can’t DESTROY a half mile chunk of rock even with nukes, the debris will still be there and will still hit anyway.

wildcat72 on July 22, 2012 at 3:35 PM

You can change its orbit. We don’t need to break anything up. We only need to nudge it.

NotCoach on July 22, 2012 at 3:42 PM

You can’t DESTROY a half mile chunk of rock even with nukes, the debris will still be there and will still hit anyway.

wildcat72 on July 22, 2012 at 3:35 PM

Yeah, but it’d make a hell of a light show and reduce the nuclear inventory at the same time. There’s always a bright side.

Oldnuke on July 22, 2012 at 3:44 PM

You can change its orbit. We don’t need to break anything up. We only need to nudge it.

NotCoach on July 22, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Which you can’t do by blowing it up. You’d just turn one big rock into a lot of little rocks.

You’d need to act on it with a force strong enough to alter it’s orbit. We don’t have rockets big enough to move a half mile of rock…

You’d need something vastly more powerful in terms of propulsion than exists in this time, something like antimatter propulsion, OR using what we have now (ion rockets) you’d have to spot the `roid far enough out, be able to GET to it in time, attach the rocket engines (powered by nuclear reactors) and let it burn long enough to influence the orbit.

wildcat72 on July 22, 2012 at 3:46 PM

A city-block size asteroid will fly by Earth this weekend, well beyond the orbit of the moon,

…is it doing it by itself…or did it get help?

KOOLAID2 on July 22, 2012 at 3:48 PM

wildcat72 on July 22, 2012 at 3:46 PM

You are selling short the nuclear weapon option. Detonating devices close to a large rock will shift its orbit.

NotCoach on July 22, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Just something to ponder when you go to sleep tonight. Pleasant dreams.
=============

Thats if,we all,er American taxpayers,can dodge,the
Great Black Abyss,of the Hopey/Changey Black Hole,that
threatens to Politicaly suck everything in,for a second
attempt at destroying America,er,Western Civilization!!
(snark).

canopfor on July 22, 2012 at 3:50 PM

NotCoach on July 22, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Not knowing the velocity of this ‘roid, just a guesstimate of its size, one of our larger nukes, if there was time to fit it on one of NASA’s or the Air Force’s spare missiles, adjust quite a few small things on the missile, given that these missiles are designed to minimally transit outside the atmosphere and are designed as ballistic missiles not inflight guided missiles, and given the vacuum of space….one nuke isn’t going to nudge much of anything that size anywhere, if it even comes close to hitting it at all.

Physics, unlike gun control, is one of those sets of laws that cannot be changed no matter how strongly we feel about it.

coldwarrior on July 22, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Physics, unlike gun control, is one of those sets of laws that cannot be changed no matter how strongly we feel about it.

coldwarrior on July 22, 2012 at 3:50 PM

The Won can always just issue an executive order.

Oldnuke on July 22, 2012 at 3:54 PM

…is it doing it by itself…or did it get help?

KOOLAID2 on July 22, 2012 at 3:48 PM

KOOLAID2:

Oh I agree,I think the KOOL_AID Vapours that were lingering,
over North America,have in some bizarre twist,has actually,dr
awn in,er,gravitationaly pulled in,said Asteriod!!!!
(sarc).

canopfor on July 22, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Oldnuke on July 22, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Probably why some unknown galactic entity is throwing a rock at The One in the first place.

coldwarrior on July 22, 2012 at 3:56 PM

Duck!

petefrt on July 22, 2012 at 3:56 PM

coldwarrior on July 22, 2012 at 3:50 PM

An asteroid we attacked 10 years before it reached us would only need to be nudged by about 1 cm. A 50 kiloton device will have a measurable impact on any large rock that poses a threat to us.

NotCoach on July 22, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Probably why some unknown galactic entity is throwing a rock at The One in the first place.

coldwarrior on July 22, 2012 at 3:56 PM

:-) Said entity better get set for an IRS audit then.

Oldnuke on July 22, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Has Brian Ross’ masterful journalism uncovered that the asteroid is a tea party associate?

simkeith on July 22, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Which you can’t do by blowing it up. You’d just turn one big rock into a lot of little rocks.

wildcat72 on July 22, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Hey, as long as the rock’s downgraded from “mass destruction” status, I’d be for it. Asteroids game IRL!

TMOverbeck on July 22, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Near Earth Object Program
==========================

Animation of asteroid flying by the Earth
NASA Releases Workshop Data and Findings on Asteroid 2011 AG5
June 15, 2012
*************

Researchers anticipate that asteroid 2011 AG5, discovered in January 2011, will fly safely past and not impact Earth in 2040. Current findings and analysis data were reported at a May 29 workshop at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., attended by scientists and engineers from around the world. Discussions focused on observations of potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs).

http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/
========================

Orbit Diagrams

Enter the designation or name of any asteroid or comet, and a 3D orbit visualization tool will appear for that object. Make sure you have Java enabled on your browser. You can also select from the list of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids provided below.

http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/orbits/

canopfor on July 22, 2012 at 4:06 PM

NotCoach on July 22, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Mass and velocity. Two key obstacles.

That and the unknowns of how objects act/react in a vacuum.

Here on Earth, we could detonate all the nuclear weapons we have ever detonated, today, at the same time, in the same spot…out in Semipalitinsk, not in Nevada, thank you, and if all were detonated precisely at the same time it would do nothing to change the orbit, tilt, or relationship of the earth to the rest of the solar system.

Now, that tsunami off Indonesia a few years back? The earth rupture that caused that tsunami actually changed the declination of the earth, and actually caused a change in the rotation of the Earth…and that was calculated at being thousands and thousands of Hiroshima type bombs in power.

In a vacuum…what is the resistance offered?

If, for example, an astronaut can launch himself into deep space by merely hitting the side of the Hubble, would a nuke device small enough to be launched from earth be sufficient to move the asteroid or would it merely dissipate all of its energy into the vacuum of space?

The only way we actually know how to move an asteroid hurtling anywhere or just hanging around in the belt is when another asteroid hits it. It moves.

Other than somehow steering another asteroid toward the errant asteroid, there is not yet sufficient proven technology available to allow us to attack an asteroid heading our way, ten year lead time or not.

Besides, all those who could be working on this scenario have been pretty much laid off, or retired early, to save money for far far more important projects, like green energy, and food stamp management, or Moslem outreach.

:-)

coldwarrior on July 22, 2012 at 4:11 PM

wildcat72 on July 22, 2012 at 3:35 PM

.
Yeah, but it’d make a hell of a light show and reduce the nuclear inventory at the same time. There’s always a bright side.

Oldnuke on July 22, 2012 at 3:44 PM

.
But what about the EMP ?

listens2glenn on July 22, 2012 at 4:15 PM

Other than somehow steering another asteroid toward the errant asteroid, there is not yet sufficient proven technology available to allow us to attack an asteroid heading our way, ten year lead time or not.
coldwarrior on July 22, 2012 at 4:11 PM

If you detonated a nuke at or below the surface of an asteroid, it might excavate and propel enough mass away from the asteroid that the reaction would nudge it significantly, whereas a stand-off burst might do nothing. F=ma and all that.

But as you say “proven technology”. I say we prove it by going out (way out) and nuking some ‘roids to see what happens, UN outer space treaty be dammned!

ZenDraken on July 22, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Oh Boy somthing else to worry about…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMMYxSS_1Fk

Scrumpy on July 22, 2012 at 4:21 PM

Hey, as long as the rock’s downgraded from “mass destruction” status, I’d be for it. Asteroids game IRL!

TMOverbeck on July 22, 2012 at 4:04 PM

The problem is you wouldn’t be changing it’s mass, just taking one big object and turning it into smaller objects.

Matter cannot be created or destroyed, just as energy can’t.

wildcat72 on July 22, 2012 at 4:21 PM

I say we prove it by going out (way out) and nuking some ‘roids to see what happens, UN outer space treaty be dammned!

ZenDraken on July 22, 2012 at 4:20 PM

If we had any sort of viable space program…we could.

And UN Treaties? If the bad guys violate them all the time, what’s the UN gonna do? Establish punitive sanctions against the United States?

coldwarrior on July 22, 2012 at 4:26 PM

But what about the EMP ?

listens2glenn on July 22, 2012 at 4:15 PM

They could open for ELO!

Oldnuke on July 22, 2012 at 4:26 PM

wildcat72 on July 22, 2012 at 4:21 PM

And having hundreds if not thousands of highly irradiated shards hitting Earth, all over the place…

coldwarrior on July 22, 2012 at 4:27 PM

Oldnuke on July 22, 2012 at 4:26 PM

Or ELP.

coldwarrior on July 22, 2012 at 4:28 PM

I, for one, welcome our new SMOD overlord.

BallisticBob on July 22, 2012 at 4:29 PM

http://www.neoshield.net/en/index.htm

lester on July 22, 2012 at 4:29 PM

Oldnuke on July 22, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Probably why some unknown galactic entity is throwing a rock at The One in the first place.

coldwarrior on July 22, 2012 at 3:56 PM

coldwarrior:I knew it,a Cosmic Anti-Social Justice sumpin sumpin!!:)

canopfor on July 22, 2012 at 4:30 PM

The problem is you wouldn’t be changing it’s mass, just taking one big object and turning it into smaller objects.

Matter cannot be created or destroyed, just as energy can’t.

wildcat72 on July 22, 2012 at 4:21 PM

That would still be helpful, though, wouldn’t it? The smaller objects would have a greater total surface area, and therefore more would be burned up in the atmosphere. I think.

acasilaco on July 22, 2012 at 4:34 PM

canopfor on July 22, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Just a bit peeved…

After all, they sent us that book, “To Serve Man” remember?

coldwarrior on July 22, 2012 at 4:35 PM

…is it doing it by itself…or did it get help?

KOOLAID2 on July 22, 2012 at 3:48 PM

The Bugs missed us this time, but what about next year? We need to invade Klendathu.

mythicknight on July 22, 2012 at 4:37 PM

That would still be helpful, though, wouldn’t it? The smaller objects would have a greater total surface area, and therefore more would be burned up in the atmosphere. I think.

acasilaco on July 22, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Probably not enough to matter that much. It’s still the same amount of MASS entering the atmosphere. The same percentage will survive entry.

In fact, smashing it into rubble might make the disaster WORSE by hitting a wider area.

wildcat72 on July 22, 2012 at 4:44 PM

‘Toon of the Day: Remember When The Left Said “Don’t trust anyone over 30”?

http://predicthistunpredictpast.blogspot.com/2012/07/toon-of-day-remember-when-left-said.html

M2RB: The Beatles

Resist We Much on July 22, 2012 at 4:49 PM

We go back in time….for a look at LoveDrive,er LoveJoy!!

COMET LOVEJOY SURVIVES:

Incredibly, sungrazing Comet Lovejoy has survived its close encounter with the sun. Lovejoy flew only 140,000 km over the stellar surface during the early hours of Dec. 16th. Experts expected the icy sundiver to be destroyed. Instead, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory caught the comet emerging from perihelion (closest approach) apparently intact:

http://www.spaceweather.com/archive.php?view=1&day=16&month=12&year=2011
==========

http://www.spaceweather.com/images2011/16dec11/ipad/lovejoyemerges.m4v?PHPSESSID=1mc9j07r7bdnvik3pr78qoc141

canopfor on July 22, 2012 at 4:50 PM

The Bugs missed us this time, but what about next year? We need to invade Klendathu.

mythicknight on July 22, 2012 at 4:37 PM

Maybe we should just call Orkin.

Oldnuke on July 22, 2012 at 4:51 PM

canopfor on July 22, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Just a bit peeved…

After all, they sent us that book, “To Serve Man” remember?

coldwarrior on July 22, 2012 at 4:35 PM

coldwarrior:Lol,yup,maybe its an updated book,to Cook Earth!:)
==============================================================

“It’s a Cookbook”!
********************

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIufLRpJYnI

canopfor on July 22, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Speaking of flying debris,Arizonians,battan down the hatchs!

Storms in Tucson area expected to bring large hail, frequent lightning – @azcentral

Submitted 9 mins ago by editor

canopfor on July 22, 2012 at 5:05 PM

Giant Earth-crossing asteroids are G-d’s way of saying “Hey, how’s that space program coming along?”

Fabozz on July 22, 2012 at 5:14 PM

Probably not enough to matter that much. It’s still the same amount of MASS entering the atmosphere. The same percentage will survive entry.

In fact, smashing it into rubble might make the disaster WORSE by hitting a wider area.

wildcat72 on July 22, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Why not blast the crap out of it the next time it passes, waiting for it to pass first, then hitting it. This way, the smaller pieces will have more time to change their “orbit” around the earth instead of the Hollywood version of shattering it moments before it hits.

BobMbx on July 22, 2012 at 5:19 PM

The problem is you wouldn’t be changing it’s mass, just taking one big object and turning it into smaller objects.

Matter cannot be created or destroyed, just as energy can’t.

wildcat72 on July 22, 2012 at 4:21 PM

You pick the falling object that strikes you:

a) a 2 pound hail stone, (100% frozen water)

or

b) 2 pounds of snow flakes (also 100% frozen water)

BobMbx on July 22, 2012 at 5:22 PM

a) a 2 pound hail stone, (100% frozen water)

or

b) 2 pounds of snow flakes (also 100% frozen water)

BobMbx on July 22, 2012 at 5:22 PM

As long as I don’t have to shovel it

Rio Linda Refugee on July 22, 2012 at 6:32 PM

The problem is you wouldn’t be changing it’s mass, just taking one big object and turning it into smaller objects.

Matter cannot be created or destroyed, just as energy can’t.

wildcat72 on July 22, 2012 at 4:21 PM

You pick the falling object that strikes you:

a) a 2 pound hail stone, (100% frozen water)

or

b) 2 pounds of snow flakes (also 100% frozen water)

BobMbx on July 22, 2012 at 5:22 PM

I was thinking how to say that Bob, but you hit it just right.

Every day about 100 tons of meteorites enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

slickwillie2001 on July 22, 2012 at 6:37 PM

In fact, smashing it into rubble might make the disaster WORSE by hitting a wider area.

wildcat72 on July 22, 2012 at 4:44 PM

This is something worth more research.

There’s some point where the debris is fine enough that it will be less hazardous than a single asteroid or large rubble. If (for example) we could pulverize the asteroid into sand-sized particles, it would definitely dump a bunch of stuff into the atmosphere, but it could not cause any significant ground damage.

So somewhere between an intact rock and pulverized sand, there is a point where impact risk is reduced to acceptable levels. We need to figure out what that point is and if we can achieve it with nuclear or conventional explosives. (NASA, are you listening?)

ZenDraken on July 22, 2012 at 7:23 PM

There’s some point where the debris is fine enough that it will be less hazardous than a single asteroid or large rubble. If (for example) we could pulverize the asteroid into sand-sized particles, it would definitely dump a bunch of stuff into the atmosphere, but it could not cause any significant ground damage.

So somewhere between an intact rock and pulverized sand, there is a point where impact risk is reduced to acceptable levels. We need to figure out what that point is and if we can achieve it with nuclear or conventional explosives. (NASA, are you listening?)

ZenDraken on July 22, 2012 at 7:23 PM

Depends too on the nature of the object. There are a few different kinds of meteors/asteroids, with considerably varying density and integrity. In some cases we might find that concentrating on mass and velocity would provide a bigger payoff than a bomb. Some of the research on bunker-buster bombs might be useful.

slickwillie2001 on July 22, 2012 at 7:46 PM

God is in control. There isn’t a thing we can do about something like this except pray, regardless of what the liberals think.

sherrimae on July 22, 2012 at 7:49 PM

I took a nap. Did it miss us?

Oldnuke on July 22, 2012 at 9:52 PM

Oldnuke on July 22, 2012 at 9:52 PM

No.

It took out France.

No biggie.

:-)

coldwarrior on July 22, 2012 at 10:02 PM

I just dropped a deuce that was bigger than that…

I still hurt

John Kettlewell on July 23, 2012 at 12:31 AM

Plenty of nukes to knock it off course. Large debris will be knocked out by Patriot and Argus systems. The rest would be eaten up by earth. And its not just USA nukes to knock it. It would be US,England,Russian,French,Indian,Chinese. If Haleys or Hale-bopp came our way. Then speculate.

Gedge on July 23, 2012 at 4:54 AM

God is in control. There isn’t a thing we can do about something like this except pray, regardless of what the liberals think.

sherrimae on July 22, 2012 at 7:49 PM

As one who prays I think that God gave us our brains and free will so that we could reason out these problems and formulate solutions to help ourselves. Taking appropriate steps to save human life does not run against God’s plan, it is God’s plan.

swinia sutki on July 23, 2012 at 6:54 AM

Giant Earth-crossing asteroids are G-d’s way of saying “Hey, how’s that space program coming along remember me?”

Fabozz on July 22, 2012 at 5:14 PM

Cleombrotus on July 23, 2012 at 8:41 AM

BobMbx on July 22, 2012 at 5:19 PM

This! When these things come swinging by, launch something to catch it as it passes by, and divert/crack/vaporize it just past our orbit. It’s sort of like preventative maintenance.

Then, when you get good at that, send something out to mine them, instead. Manned or unmanned, send something to latch on and turn it into something useful. Then bring the useful bits back to Earth in a controlled and non-scary manner.

GWB on July 23, 2012 at 10:22 AM

Gedge on July 23, 2012 at 4:54 AM

How does one convert a ballistic weapon into a guided weapon intended for a deep space moving target rather than a simple end-of-arc earthbound static target?

ICBM’s, and Patriot or patriot-like systems, Arrow as well, are not designed for deep space or true exo-atmosheric deployment. Raytheon, Boeing, Grumman and a few others are toying with the concept of Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicles…but these are primarily kinetic energy weapons targeting a quite small “enemy” incoming ballistic warhead in the mid-arc or final drop phase of flight. Think of a large tin can full of concrete with a very highly precise guidance system and rocket motor strapped on the back end.

You do understand ballistic versus guided, and almost all ICBM’s built or deployed are ballistic missiles…all the power is dispensed in the launch phase into the very near exoatmosphere, then gravity takes over and the warhead/package drops in an arc toward the target…with some maneuverability of each independent warhead deployed from the MIRV package in the final phase of flight. {Nice photo of MIRV’s “coming home” over Kwajalein a number of years ago. Notice the straight trajectories following final separation from the mother vehicle. No steering, no Tomahawk-like turning corners or heading up a valley or into a window.]

No speculation.

Once that hurdle is accomplished…then we have the entire realm of simple physics to deal with…back to mass and velocity, both variables…and how to counter that with a system that can actually be launched from Earth….safely. We don’t wish to kill the same folks we are trying to protect.

Presently, regardless of US, China, Russia or any other nation involved in space and possessing nukes, is there any proven technology available to deflect, destroy or disintegrate an asteroid of any size.

And given the current focus, we are apparently decades and decades away from ever developing such a system.

coldwarrior on July 23, 2012 at 10:47 AM