Asteroid makes close call with earth
AN ASTEROID ABOUT THE SIZE OF HALF A FOOTBALL FIELD WILL GIVE THE EARTH A CLOSE SHAVE ON FRIDAY.
AN ASTEROID ABOUT THE SIZE OF HALF A FOOTBALL FIELD WILL GIVE THE EARTH A
CLOSE SHAVE ON FRIDAY.
SCIENTISTS SAY THE LAST TIME AN ASTEROID WAS THIS CLOSE WAS IN 1908 -- WHEN IT CRASHED IN SIBERIA.
AS NEWSWATCH'S HEATHER BUTTS REPORTS, SCIENTISTS ARE NOT CONCERNED, BUT SAY THERE IS A LOT TO LEARN FROM THIS RARE
David Hanes, Queen's University
"This is going to be the closest passage of a big object that we've ever seen."
Professor David Hanes is referring to an asteroid called 2012 D-A- 14.
It's name may not be all that exciting, but for researchers, this event is.
"It's about 46 meters in diameter which is about the size of a big issue apartment block.
But it's made of solid rock, so as I said if it hit us, it would cause quite a bit of local damage.
It's not going to hit us, we know that very clearly, but it's going to come much closer than the moon is."
The asteroid won't be visible without a telescope, and even then you would only see a small dot of light moving across the sky.
"I'm not particularly worried about it, it's not going to hit us."
"Nothing really, it's just an event that's happening that doesn't really impact our lives... if i can use that word."
Hanes says statistics show we will eventually be hit by one.
Roughly speaking once every 100 million years the earth will be hit by one that would take out civilisation.
With thousands of asteroids orbiting space, some more than 10 kilometre in size, researchers say this close call is a good reminder of that.
"It really has a serious message for us, and that is that these things are out there and we have to be careful to find them all so we can protect ourselves in future."
So what would you do if this asteroid were a concern?
"Probably not go to class this afternoon, start with that."
"I would treat myself on the last day."
"I would go to Disney land."
So when the time comes, is there any way to stop it?
"You want to catch these things far enough in advance that you can send a rocket out there and give it a little nudge."
But that little nudge can only happen if scientists catch them early enough.
In the meantime, while the rest of us probably won't be fazed by the event, scientists will be studying the occurrence.
This isn't the last we'll see of this rock.
It's expected to skim passed earth again in 2020.
Heather Butts, CKWS Newswatch, Kingston.