An asteroid nearly four Olympic swimming pools across will fly closer than the moon Tuesday, prompting officials to quell worries that the rogue rock will slam into the Earth.
There is NO CHANCE that this object will collide with the Earth or Moon, Donald Yeomans, NASA investigator wrote in an hour-long public forum hosted Thursday by ScienceNOW, the online news site of Science.
The flyby will instead allow researchers to get a closeup look at an asteroid astronomers discovered three days after Christmas, 2005. The last time an object came this close to the Earth was 1976
This close approach gives us a great chance to study this kind of object! One thing we are going to do is obtain radar images of the object as it flies by. I've read that we will be able to see details down to a size of about 15 feet across on the surface of the asteroid. THIS IS AWESOME, Scott Fisher, astronomical science program director at the National Institutes of Science, writes Thursday. Additionally, telescopes on the island of Hawaii are going to obtain spectroscopy of YU 55 to try to give us an idea of what it is made of, wrote the astronomer who also studies planet formation at the Gemini Observatory.
The Internet has been a fertile ground for end-of-the-world predictions, an idea that experts reject as fast as the flyby.
Recently there have been many posts on the internet concerning disasters concerning comet Elenin (now disintegrated into a cloud of dust), Nibiru (never existed), Planet X (never existed) and any number of phenomena for which there is NO EVIDENCE whatsoever, Yeomans wrote. There are no filters for internet blogs. People can, and do, say whatever they like so readers have to ask themselves whether there is any evidence for the claims being made. It used to be that editors could filter nonsense before it was published but the internet is largely unedited material so readers have to think whether or not there is evidence to support the claims being made.
The Earth is daily bombarded by baseball-sized objects and a Volkswagon-size object crashes into the atmosphere every few weeks.
On average, a 30 meter sized object , the smallest that could cause significant ground damage, would be expected to hit every few hundred years, and a larger object of a kilometer in diameter would not be expected to hit but every few hundred thousand years, Yeomans wrote.