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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Too Close For Comfort

posted by on August 8 at 15:51 PM

You may have heard about 99942 Apophis, the asteroid scheduled to pass by our little blue marble in 2029. When it does, there’s a chance that it could plow through something called a “gravitational keyhole,” which would set it on a course to smack into Earth on April 13, 2036.


The current estimate is a 1 in 45,000 chance that Apophis will collide with Earth—not the best of odds, really, when you consider the outcome could resemble something like this:


Thankfully, NASA is already working on a plan to divert Apophis if/when the asteroid decides to destroy all life on our planet. And that plan, according to this posting on Engadget, involves…

…six missile-like interceptor vehicles that would launch aboard an Ares V cargo launch vehicle, each carrying with them a 1.2-megaton B83 nuclear warhead.


And if all goes according to plan, then…

…the warheads apparently wouldn’t actually strike the asteroid directly, but instead detonate at a distance of one-third of its diameter, generating a force that would (theoretically) deflect the asteroid out of the Earth’s path.

Let’s hope it works. Even better: Let’s hope we never need to find out.

RSS icon Comments


Or, let's do the right thing, and let it kill us all.

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 8, 2007 4:00 PM

We're all doing to die.

Posted by Paco | August 8, 2007 4:02 PM

I thought we were supposed to do what this administration does with all domestic policy- Trust in Jebus.

If that doesn't work, then it was all meant to be... and Evangelicals can celebrate their rapture.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | August 8, 2007 4:08 PM

NASA's in charge of this operation? We're fucked!

Posted by Rotten666 | August 8, 2007 4:09 PM

This sounds like a job for..... Space Tractor!!

Posted by Scottie | August 8, 2007 4:11 PM


No shit. It's over. Game over.

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 8, 2007 4:13 PM

and bruce willis will be either too dead or too old to save us!

but we'll get a gnarly new aerosmith song out of it. i heard there will be a huge oboe section.

Posted by konstantConsumer | August 8, 2007 4:14 PM

Hell, in 2039 I'll be 72. Chances are I'll be ready to die anyway.


And for tonights home viewing pleasure... Deep Impact

Posted by monkey | August 8, 2007 4:17 PM

Let's ask the Blue Angels to help! They can do anything!

Posted by Gurldoggie | August 8, 2007 4:17 PM

I love that picture of the asteroid hitting. Always cracks me up. "Here's what it would look like it the freaking moon just up and smashed into us." Man, if something that size hit us at the kind of speed shit tends to fly around in space, it wouldn't destroy all life on Earth so much as it would just crack the whole fucking planet apart.

Posted by Ben | August 8, 2007 4:18 PM

@9....I love you!

Posted by Rotten666 | August 8, 2007 4:19 PM

Wow! I have completely misunderestimated the folks at NASCAR. I wouldn't have thought them capable of developing a plan like this. Maybe we should welcome a new track in the South Sound after all.

Posted by kinaidos | August 8, 2007 4:23 PM

So what you're saying is I'm gonna die when I'm 55? Sweet! Forget that Roth IRA, let's go drinking!

Posted by Jessica | August 8, 2007 4:26 PM


You're 40?! SEND PICS!!!

Kidding. Or am I? No? Yes? I don't know. No.

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 8, 2007 4:27 PM

@10 I laughed so much I almost up and died now making it all moot for me.

Posted by Nay | August 8, 2007 4:32 PM

And now I have the Duck & Cover song playing in my head.

Posted by monkey | August 8, 2007 4:38 PM

Here's a fun orbital simulator program that NASA/JPL has set up, so you can play out where/when Apophis or any of the other NEOs cross Earth orbit:

(Apophis is about 7/8 of the way down the page, listed in the third column over as 99942 Apophis, or 2004 MN4, since it was only discovered three years ago)

Scroll around by days, weeks, years and watch Apophis whiz right through our neighborhood again and again and again! Remember, each time it comes near that "keyhole", it gets close enough to have its orbit adjusted by our gravitational well. When will it hit us? And what about all the other Near Earth Objects on that page, not to mention the ones that haven't been spotted yet...


Posted by Peter | August 8, 2007 4:41 PM

Wowza, that's going to be a big headache for President Barbara Bush and Vice President Jenna Bush. Good luck with that.

Isn't that the same year that those government actuaries say the US is going to have to declare super-duper bankruptcy?

Talk about synchronicity! We'll all max out our cards and go out with a bang. And the Chinese that we owe $100 trillion billion can suck it!!

Posted by Original Andrew | August 8, 2007 4:44 PM

Good one, Peter. I like that there are brainiacs out there that are actually putting their shoulders to the wheel.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | August 8, 2007 5:02 PM

2036 - 1963 = i'll be goddamn 73 years old.

i plan to snort a lot a coke off hooker's asses in that decade, so NASA,

Posted by maxsolomon | August 8, 2007 5:31 PM

Hmmm...actually, I think it would be pretty fantastic if we did have to divert it from earth's path. The drive would be unifying to the world's government, and the technological push it would force on us would probably drive us for another century.

Plus, if we failed, in 2031, we could all play Five Years over and over again.

Posted by Gitai | August 8, 2007 5:41 PM

I'll be 71 and almost certainly dead - or on my way there. So I don't care.

Hope it works out for you young'uns

Posted by catalina vel-duray | August 8, 2007 6:00 PM

While better than infinitesimal, 45000 to 1 is still very, very long odds. A whole hell of a lot would have to break right for that thing to even cross Earth's path.

Posted by Gomez | August 8, 2007 6:02 PM

Nothing to worry about. A 415m rock hitting the earth on land would create effects similar to a super bad volcanic eruption- about 10x Krakatoa from the 1880's.

If it hit in water near, say, Hawaii, it would create a tsunami that would shoal near the WA/OR coast up to a height of several hundred feet. It would scour the coast, lose some energy in the puget sound, but certainly destroy downtown Seattle. But then it would stop in the foothills of the Cascades.

If it hit in the mid-Atlantic, though, all the lowlying east coast would be inundated.

What I'm saying is: it would be a "head for the hills" kind of day, not an Extinction Level Event.

Posted by Big Sven | August 8, 2007 6:04 PM

I'll be 71 and almost certainly dead - or on my way there. So I don't care.

Hope it works out for you young'uns

Posted by catalina vel-duray | August 8, 2007 6:05 PM

I plan on living past 100. I don't why everyone here thinks they'll be dead in their seventies.

Posted by Aexia | August 8, 2007 6:20 PM

Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

Posted by ivan | August 8, 2007 7:26 PM

Lucifer's Hammer- I can't decide if it's race politics are merely horribly dated or outright racist. And except for the dudes in orbit, the story is stunningly Californocentric.

Read "Integral Trees" instead.

Posted by Big Sven | August 9, 2007 1:36 AM

I'll probably be dead by then. A youngish dead.

Posted by Deacon Seattle | August 9, 2007 2:25 AM

Bruce Willis will be dead, but Ben Affleck could do it. Right?

Posted by Christin | August 9, 2007 7:01 AM

why worry? by then, the bird flu will have pretty much decimated us and the few of us left will be pounding on the door of Erica C Barnett's fall out shelter, begging to partake of her K-rations...

Posted by michael strangeways | August 9, 2007 9:24 AM

why worry about it? by then, the bird flu will have decimated us and the few stragglers remaining will be pounding at the door of Erica C Barnett's fallout shelter begging to partake of her K-rations....

Posted by michael strangeways | August 9, 2007 9:32 AM

fuck, i posted twice...

i didn't think the first one, took...

and i'm a little bit redarted...

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