Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Vice on DART, Harvard on the 'Armageddon causing comet' that killed the dinosaurs, and more asteroid news for Apophis Day

Today is Apophis Day, when I report on the perils of space. In particular, I concentrate on potential threats from asteroids, as the asteroid Apophis will fly by Earth twice on this date, first in 2029 and again in 2036, hence my name for the day. Since I like some hope along with my DOOM, I also write about possible solutions. On that note, watch How NASA Plans to Save Earth from Asteroids | The Space Show by Vice News.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test is NASA's first test of a "kinetic impactor" that could one day be used to save Earth from an incoming asteroid. Andy Rivkin, an asteroid expert with The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, explains how to smash into giant space rocks and possibly save human civilization.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission looks promising. Preparations should be well under way by Asteroid Day, so I expect that I will be writing about the mission again at the end of June.

One of the main reasons asteroids rank so highly among doomsday scenarios is the discovery that an asteroid impact caused the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs. Dinosaurs and disaster — that's a combination that attracts attention! Harvard University reported a new finding about the Origin of the Armageddon causing comet.

A new theory from Avi Loeb and Amir Siraj explains the origin of the comet that killed the dinosaurs
So a big comet nucleus made of carbonaceous chondrite, not a stony asteroid, hit the Earth 66 million years ago. That shows both the blurriness of the boundary between comets and asteroids and that comets are as big a threat as asteroids. I'll keep that in mind for future posts about asteroids.

Follow over the jump for two more videos reporting the latest news about asteroids.

Video from Space (Space.com) uploaded Car-size asteroid zips by Earth at only 16,300 miles away - See a pic & orbit just yesterday.

Asteroid 2021 GW4 made a very close flyby of Earth on April 12, 2021. Its closest approach was calculated to be about about 16,300 miles away (26,232 km). Gianluca Masi from the Virtual Telescope project captured imagery of the space rock a few hours before the flyby.
On the one hand, this flyby could hardly be more timely. On the other, even if it had entered the atmosphere, it would not have posed much more of a threat than the meteor that exploded harmlessly over Detroit 3 years ago, although it would have put on quite a show and might have broken a few windows.

Video from Space also uploaded Interstellar object 'Oumuamua may be chunk of 'Pluto-like planet', an update on a video I embedded in Seeker/DNews on asteroids for Apophis Day 2018 3 years ago.

A new study of instellar object ‘Oumuamua suggests that it may be a "piece of a Pluto-like planet from another solar system," according to Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration.
That's cool, and not just because ‘Oumuamua is made of nitrogen ice.

I conclude today's entry with this meme I got from my friend Nebris to remind my readers of the importance of a space program to protect against threats coming from outside the planet.

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