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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