[meteorite-list] Asteroid Just Misses Earth
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:37:37 2004
Giant asteroid just misses Earth
December 24, 2000
09:55 (AEDT) A 50-METRE-WIDE asteroid capable of wiping out an entire city
had missed Earth by only 800,000km, British astronomers said today.
While the distance is twice the distance to the moon, it is a near miss in
Travelling at more than 32km per second, the asteroid swept past Earth at
midnight GMT Saturday morning (1100 AEDT yesterday) and was visible through
a powerful telescope.
If the object, nicknamed 2000 YA, had hit the earth, it would have made "a
real mess of a city like London", Robin Scagell, vice-president of the
Society for Popular Astronomy, said.
"An object this size would leave a crater three quarters of a mile (1.2km)
across. Imagine that in Piccadilly Circus," he said.
"It wouldn't matter so much if it landed in Antarctica but if it happened to
hit a built-up area there would be quite a lot of devastation," he said.
"There are probably thousands of objects of this size out there."
Astronomers are accustomed to hunting for asteroids about a kilometre wide,
but they only catch last-minute glimpses of smaller objects such as 2000 YA.
"Not long ago something like this would have been totally overlooked. Now
with the the advanced image detectors available today we are beginning to
realise that we're in a bit of a shooting gallery. We've probably been quite
lucky up to now," Scagell said.
In September three experts wrote an official report published in London,
warning against the "real" dangers of an asteroid collision with Earth.
The report recommended that a meteorite surveillance system be set up to
prevent Earth from being pulverised by an asteroid.
Received on Sun 24 Dec 2000 01:14:40 AM PST