Another rock will fly past the Earth today, killing no one.


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Chicken Little report: Another rock will fly past the Earth today, killing no one.

The 33-foot-wide (10 meters) near-Earth asteroid 2014 EC will come within 34,550 miles (55,600 kilometers) of Earth’s surface this evening (March 6) — just 14 percent of the distance between our planet and the moon, which is about 239,000 miles (385,000 km) on average.

The key quote, however, is this:

Such back-to-back flybys are pretty special, though they can’t exactly be called rare events, [JPL scientist Don] Yeomans said. “For small asteroids, one would expect a flyby of the Earth, to within the moon’s distance, about every two weeks,” he said.

In other words, these flybys happen a lot, with no consequences.

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4 comments

  • Chris Kirkendall

    It seems we’re living in a sensationalist era as far as news & weather reporting go. I can’t tell you how annoyed I am that we name winter storms now – and not just extreme blizzards, but even just moderate snow events. The last one that came thru Chicago dumped a whole (HORRORS ! !) 4″ – BFD ! !

  • wodun

    It might not have hit us but it does emphasize that space isn’t empty. We live in a hostile celestial environment.

  • Pzatchok

    Our ability to actually intercept one will not advance until we are actually hit by one that causes loss of life and significant damage to an urban area.
    No one cares much about farmer Phill and his cows if they get hit. But drop one on Miami and watch the cash flow into NASA to protect us.

  • Tom Billings

    One *good* thing about these higher rates of asteroid passage is that they indicate that the number of small temporary moons of Earth that wander into and out of fuzzy orbits in and near Cislunar Space may be larger than thought so far. If so, then a detection system for them, like the Arkyd 100 could yield multiple targets each year that have enough total mass to jumpstart one or more projects on the Moon, through an EML-1 staging point and manufacturing center.

    This affect could be multiplied by the work being done at CalTech by Dr. Julia Greer and her Architectured Materials Team.

    http://www.jrgreer.caltech.edu/home.php

    They are producing nano-structured trusses that have hollow truss members a few microns long and a few nanometers thick, with strength equal to an equivalent volume of solid metal, or of Sapphire (Al2O8, IIRC). They are now reporting 100/1 ratios with equivalent solids. Note that members small enough to have few to no crystal imperfections can exhibit not only greater strength per kilo of mass, but in the case of Sapphire, the truss can be compressed up to 50%, and it returns to its former shape after compression is removed. Not only would this make for incredibly low mass spaceships but it can magnify the number of projects doable with the mass obtained from Earth’s temporary moons.

    Start a lunar surface base, with landers built at EML-1 from “temporary moon” material, using these nano-structured trusses, and you would still have enough mass to start building the equipment for harvesting farther Near Earth Asteroids. You might even have enough to start a base on the surface of Mar’s moon, Phobos, which could start doing the same things there, including landers for Mars. If those asteroid flyby rates are high enough for these smaller objects that have a low enough delta-v to be captured for an average of 10 months, then they might provide a far less capital intensive bootstrap into harvesting asteroids and settling the Solar System.

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