Near-Earth objects and close calls


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Stunning video of meteor fireball somewhere over (apparently) California on night of 28/29th July. Seems to be no MSM coverage at present.
RT as it already.



The Living Force
FOTCM Member
A mix of new items coming out, with revealing findings. :whistle:

Both falls were captured by The Desert Fireball Network (DFN) team which uses cameras across Australia to observe shooting stars and predict where meteorites land.

The team, who usually search from March to October, was postponed due to COVID-19, but as restrictions lifted it observed another meteorite fall just south of the Eyre Highway near Madura.

Astronomer Dr Hadrien Devillepoix and planetary geologist Dr Anthony Lagain originally went on a reconnaissance mission to assess the latest fall site near Madura, taking drone imagery of the area.

“Most meteorites contain a lot of metallic iron, a lot more than normal Earth rocks. This is why meteorites typically attract a magnet, or make a nearby compass ‘go crazy’,” Dr Devillepoix said.

“However the meteorite that we found almost entirely fails the compass test – the compass needle barely gets disturbed, which is really intriguing. The next step for us is to now figure out why this is happening and what is making this meteorite so different to the others we know about.”

Dr Devillepoix explained that not only do the fireball cameras allow the team to calculate where the meteorites land, they also allow it to backtrack where they came from and what orbit they were on before they hit Earth.

“We were able to determine that this meteorite was on an Aten orbit, which means that before it fell to Earth, the meteorite spent most of its time in the innermost Solar System, between Venus and Earth,” Dr Devillepoix said.

“This type of orbit is unusual because, as most meteorites come from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, they usually retain an orbital connection to this area of space.”

Two weeks later, Dr Martin Towner, operations chief of the team, led the six people team to search the site of the November 2019 fall. This fall was North-West of Forrest airport in the middle of the Nullarbor.

After just four hours of searching, they found the 300 gram meteorite that the DFN had seen come in on the night of November 18th, 2019.

This one came from a radically different orbit, pointing to the middle part of the main asteroid belt. The team is now working to uncover what secrets the two rocks hold.

John Curtin Distinguished Professor Phil Bland, the Director of the Space Science and Technology Centre, explained his team is able to learn more about meteorites on Earth by analysing data collected from strategically placed camera observatories, known as the Desert Fireball Network (DFN).

(2011 ES4) Classification: Apollo [NEO]

After returning to Earth in December 2020, Hayabusa2 will separate the capsule and return to deep space. As about half of the fuel (xenon) for the ion engine is expected to remain at this time, there is the potential to continue on to a new mission. We therefore examined what kind of mission would be possible.

Initially, a search was performed to identify celestial objects that could be reached using the residual fuel. 354 candidates were found. Then the engineering viewpoint was considered, including details such as the level of orbit control required to reach the celestial object, how well the orbit of target object was determined and the feasibility of the spacecraft operations. The size of the target object, rotation speed and type were also scrutinized to rank the celestial objects by their scientific interest. Finally, the selection was narrowed down to two objects: 2001 AV43 and 1998 KY26 (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Characteristics of the exploration candidate celestial bodies (image credit: Auburn University, JAXA).

Both these candidates are very small celestial bodies with diameters of a few tens of meters. The asteroids are referred to as ‘fast rotators’ because of their extremely rapid rotation period of just 10 minutes. An object with these characteristics has never been visited by humanity before, and the comparative observations with asteroid Ryugu are expected to deepen the scientific knowledge obtained from Ryugu.

The orbits of these two celestial objects are different, and the plan to reach 2001 AV43 goes via Venus, while the route to 1998 KY26 is via another asteroid. We call these scenarios EVEEA (Earth → Venus → Earth → Earth → Asteroid) and EAEEA (Earth → Asteroid → Earth → Earth → Asteroid). The main difference is the Venus swing-by in 2024 for the EVEEA scenario and the asteroid fly-by in 2026 for EAEEA (Figure 2). The arrival at 2001 AV43 is scheduled for November 2029, and the arrival at 1998 KY26 is scheduled for July 2031. They will be long-term missions that will take about 10 years.

Figure 2: Trajectory diagrams for each scenario (image credit: JAXA).

  • Advance long-term navigation technology within the Solar System.
    Based on the engineering achievements of the Earth-return mission, the extended mission will advance the development of operation technology necessary for more flexible and distant exploration, and for scientific observations during long-term navigation and fly-bys.
  • Realization of fast rotating asteroid exploration.
    The extended mission will investigate rapidly rotating small asteroids –an unexplored area—and further deepen the scientific knowledge obtained from Ryugu. In addition, the mission will aim to acquire new asteroid exploration technology by the approach within this special environment, where the rotation speed is sufficiently fast that the centrifugal force dominates gravity on the asteroid surface.
  • Acquisition of science and technology that contributes to Planetary Defense.
    Asteroids 10s m in size can cause regional damage if they collide with the Earth. Through exploration of this asteroid type and elucidation of their origin, technology and knowledge can be acquired that contributes to activities to prevent disasters caused by celestial objects colliding with the Earth (Planetary Defense).
As mentioned above, it will take a further 10 years after returning to the Earth to reach the target celestial body. Hayabusa2 was designed for the Earth-return mission, and the life of the onboard equipment is not guaranteed over this extended period. Therefore, a failure or malfunction could occur at any time. Under these circumstances, Hayabusa2 plans to accumulate mission results during the flight while carrying out the extended mission.

We plan to focus on one of the two candidate missions this fall. This mission and the budget must be approved in order to actually proceed with the extended mission. After safely delivering the capsule to Earth, we look forward to moving onwards to new challenges!

Press briefing material from July 22, 2020.

July was a record month for the #globalmeteornetwork - we obtained more than 10,000 meteor orbits from 140 cameras throughout the world, and observed dozens of meteor showers

PERSEIDS 2020: Meteor Detection - Live View

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Dagobah Resident
WATCH: Indonesian countryside plunged into darkness as volcano unleashes towering column of ash — RT World News

Behaving like a capacitor [?] a highly charged comet / asteroid conducting current from the Solar system and zipping by Earth could have a serious discharge effect - enhanced by its own EM-field - [?] maybe like (I'm getting the mental image of) an electromagnetic whip smashing into the EM-field and mantle of our planet.
Causing volcanoes activating, in areas where ever this energy-whip hits.
When this "EM-whip" hits Earth the strike could ripple through the planet [?] and Earth could behave as a drum / fluid filled balloon, so these ripple-waves might travel through the mantle and cause volcano eruptions on different geographical locations.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member

Two asteroids are set to dart past Earth in the coming days, while NASA has warned about an impending close shave with an airplane-sized space rock. A doomsday preacher has also issued a dire warning about the upcoming encounter.
Greatly enhanced detection techniques have allowed astronomers to witness an ever-increasing number of asteroid flybys in recent years. The latest installment will see two space rocks skim past Earth this week. Both of the rocks were only spotted in recent days, a reminder of the threat that undetected asteroids potentially pose to our planet.

Thankfully, both of the rocks will pass at a safe distance of more than 1.5 million kilometers (932,056 miles). However, on September 1 we’re set for a far closer encounter, when a 28-meter space rock, officially known as 2011 ES4, will skim past Earth at only one third of the distance between our planet and the moon.

The visitor will whizz by at a speed of nearly 30,000 kilometers (18,600 miles) per hour. NASA has labelled it a "Potentially Hazardous Asteroid" because of possible risk it poses to our Earth.

While 2011 ES4 will almost certainly fly past our planet at a safe distance, Pastor Paul Begley has issued dire warnings about it heralding the end of the world.

“It's been confirmed, incoming fireballs, apocalyptic, headed in our direction,” the self-proclaimed End Times prophesier forecast in a recent video on his popular YouTube account.

Begley cites biblical passages mixed with cherry-picked scientific evidence as “proof” that the planet is in mortal danger from incoming “apocalyptic fireballs”.

“I've been talking about this for a decade because we knew, according to the Bible, we knew it was coming - even without scientific proof,”
he explained. “Even Stephen Hawking says the Earth will be consumed in fire in 2600. I think it's gonna be way way sooner than that because the Bible says it in second Peter, chapter three.”

Begley claimed that “more than 100 tonnes of space dust and rock” will rain down into our atmosphere every day in a sign of the impending apocalypse. Unsurprisingly, there is no scientific basis for these claims.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member

On August 7th, an unusual object flew past the sun. (Spoiler Alert: It's not an alien armada.) "It was a triple comet," says Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab in Washington DC, who made this animation using coronagraph images from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO):

"The two main components are easy to spot, with the third, a very faint, diffuse fragment following alongside the leading piece," he says.

SOHO finds comets all the time. Most are Kreutz sungrazers, fragments of a giant comet that broke up more than 1000 years ago. Since the observatory was launched in 1995, SOHO has discovered more than 3000 members of the Kreutz family dive-bombing the sun.

And that's what makes this comet unusual. "It is not a member of the Kreutz family," says Battams. "Its orbit doesn't match. We're not yet sure where it came from."

Shortly after the comet cluster showed up in SOHO images, a rumor began to spread on social media: Spaceships are sling-shotting around the sun. "No," says Battams. "It's a comet. If it waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck... chances are it's a duck! This object shows all the classic signs of being a comet: diffuse, elongated, has a tail, and follows a path that is clearly dominated by the sun's gravity."

The triple comet is now receding from the sun, fading rapidly from view. There's a slim chance that large ground-based telescopes might be able to track it. If so, they could find clues to its make-up and origin.

"Unfortunately, the prognosis for small fragmenting comets like this is not good," says Battams. "This was probably this comet's first and last pass by the sun, as it has likely now crumbled away entirely. But SOHO will continue to keep watching the sun, and waiting for our next special cometary offering to come along."


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
From Business Insider:

A car-size asteroid flew within 1,830 miles of Earth over the weekend — the closest pass ever — and we didn't see it coming
A car-size asteroid flew within about 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) of Earth on Sunday.

That's a remarkably close shave — the closest ever recorded, in fact, according to asteroid trackers and a catalog compiled by Sormano Astronomical Observatory in Italy.

Because of its size, the space rock most likely wouldn't have posed any danger to people on the ground had it struck our planet. But the close call is worrisome nonetheless, since astronomers had no idea the asteroid existed until after it passed by.

"The asteroid approached undetected from the direction of the sun," Paul Chodas, the director of NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies, told Business Insider. "We didn't see it coming."

Instead, the Palomar Observatory in California first detected the space rock about six hours after it flew by Earth.

Chodas confirmed the record-breaking nature of the event: "Yesterday's close approach is closest on record, if you discount a few known asteroids that have actually impacted our planet," he said.

NASA knows about only a fraction of near-Earth objects (NEOs) like this one. Many do not cross any telescope's line of sight, and several potentially dangerous asteroids have snuck up on scientists in recent years. If the wrong one slipped through the gaps in our NEO-surveillance systems, it could kill tens of thousands of people.

2020 QG flew over the Southern Hemisphere

This recent near-Earth asteroid was initially called ZTF0DxQ but is now formally known to astronomers as 2020 QG. Business Insider first learned about it from Tony Dunn, the creator of the website

"Newly-discovered asteroid ZTF0DxQ passed less than 1/4 Earth diameter yesterday, making it the closest-known flyby that didn't hit our planet," Dunn tweeted on Monday. He shared the animation below, republished here with permission.

The sped-up simulation shows the approximate orbital path of 2020 QG as it careened by at a speed of about 7.7 miles per second (12.4 kilometers per second) or about 27,600 mph.

Early observations suggest the space rock flew over the Southern Hemisphere just after 4 a.m. Universal Time (midnight ET) on Sunday.

The animation above shows 2020 QG flying over the Southern Ocean near Antarctica. However, the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center calculated a slightly different trajectory. The group's rendering (shown at the beginning of this story), suggests the asteroid flew over the Pacific Ocean hundreds of miles east of Australia.

Not dangerous, but definitely not welcome

As far as space rocks go, 2020 QG wasn't too dangerous.

Telescope observations suggest the object is between 6 feet (2 meters) and 18 feet (5.5 meters) wide — somewhere between the size of a small car and an extended-cab pickup truck. But even if it was on the largest end of that spectrum and made of dense iron (most asteroids are rocky), only small pieces of such an asteroid may have reached the ground, according to the "Impact Earth" simulator from Purdue University and Imperial College London.

Such an asteroid would have exploded in the atmosphere, creating a brilliant fireball and unleashing an airburst equivalent to detonating a couple dozen kilotons of TNT. That's about the same as one of the atomic bombs the US dropped on Japan in 1945. But the airburst would have happened about 2 or 3 miles above the ground, so it wouldn't have sounded any louder than heavy traffic to people on the ground.

This doesn't make the asteroid's discovery much less unnerving, though — it does not take a huge space rock to create a big problem.

Take, for example, the roughly 66-foot-wide (20-meter) asteroid that exploded without warning over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013. That space rock created a superbolide event, unleashing an airburst equivalent to 500 kilotons of TNT — about 30 Hiroshima nuclear bombs' worth of energy. The explosion, which began about 12 miles (20 kilometers) above Earth, triggered a blast wave that shattered windows in six Russian cities and injured about 1,500 people.

And in July 2019, a 427-foot (130-meter) asteroid called 2019 OK passed within 45,000 miles (72,400 kilometers) of our planet, or less than 20% of the distance between Earth and the moon. Astronomers detected that rock less than a week before its closest approach, leading one scientist to tell The Washington Post that the asteroid essentially appeared "out of nowhere."

In an unlikely direct hit to a city, such a wayward space rock might kill tens of thousands of people.

NASA is actively scanning the skies for such threats, as Congress has required it to do since 2005. However, the agency is mandated to detect only 90% of "city killer" space rocks larger than about 460 feet (140 meters) in diameter.

In May 2019, NASA said it had found less than half of the estimated 25,000 objects of that size or larger. And of course, that doesn't count smaller rocks such as the Chelyabinsk and 2019 OK asteroids.

Objects that come from the direction of the sun, meanwhile — like 2020 QG — are notoriously difficult to spot.

"There's not much we can do about detecting inbound asteroids coming from the sunward direction, as asteroids are detected using optical telescopes only (like ZTF), and we can only search for them in the night sky," Chodas said. "The idea is that we discover them on one of their prior passages by our planet, and then make predictions years and decades in advance to see whether they have any possibility of impacting."

NASA has a plan to address these gaps in its asteroid-hunting program. The agency is in the early stages of developing a space telescope that could detect asteroids and comets coming from the sun's direction. NASA's 2020 budget allotted nearly $36 million for that telescope, called the Near-Earth Object Surveillance Mission. If funding continues, it could launch as early as 2025.
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