Astronomers study asteroid nearing earth
PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 24 (UPI) — An asteroid believed about 500 feet to 2,000 feet in size is being closely monitored by the U.S. space agency as it approaches Earth for a Tuesday fly-by.
Asteroid 2007 TU24 is expected to be about 334,000 miles from Earth at 3:33 a.m. Jan. 29 and should be observable by amateur astronomers with modest-sized telescopes, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said.
The asteroid was discovered by the NASA-sponsored Catalina Sky Survey Oct. 11. Scientists at NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., have determined there is no possibility of an impact with Earth in the foreseeable future.
“This will be the closest approach by a known asteroid of this size or larger until 2027,” said Don Yeomans, manager of the Near Earth Object Program Office. “As its closest approach is about one-and-a-half times the distance of Earth to the moon, there is no reason for concern. On the contrary, Mother Nature is providing us an excellent opportunity to perform scientific observations.”
NASA detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to the planet.
Yet Another Warning Shot across Our Bows …
Once again we have been given fair warning, and the majority of media have barely given the extra terrestrial missile more than a passing mention. In fact they have happened with such frequency as more and more near misses are reported, and played down, each year that we have become complacent.
This time a 500 – 2000 foot wide monster, or in collateral damage terms, a global catastrophe, will miss us by a mere 334 000 miles (537 521 km) on January 29. Were it on course and considering our combined collision speeds (Earth and the asteroid) that’s under TWELVE HOURS!
The asteroid dubbed 2007 TU24, is the largest, closest near miss in 22 years and was only discovered on October 11 last year. Far too late for us to do anything about it, had it been headed our way.
Yet the media continue to talk about this phenomenon as being almost close enough to be seen with a naked eye, or having an ‘interesting shape’ with barely a noteworthy comment about the very real danger these sightings pose. One wonders how interested the news services would have been in its outward appearance if the Near Earth Object were less than twelve seconds from impact.