A Big Asteroid Almost Hit Earth Last September
A giant asteroid almost hit earth on September 16.
Normally when something like that is about to happen we hear about it on the news, or it's all over the internet. Not this time. NOPE.
It was coming from the direction of the Sun so astronomers missed it.
So the first questions anyone would ask at a time like this would be HOW BIG? and HOW CLOSE?
For me, I like to think of sizes using words like "BIG - HUGE - GIGANTIC" After that I start making words up. If it is bigger still I start to throw cuss words in front of the words that mean REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY big.
But let's get more scientific. The size was listed as a length of “around 42 to 94 m, with a diameter of around 68 m.” Before you panic. The "M" is not for MILES. It's for METERS! I bet you still need a visual on that.
Imagine a rock the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
NASA defines asteroids of that size range as being likely to produce “localized damage.” So this would not have caused a "global event."
OKAY so now we have to identify what they mean by "close." In space terms "CLOSE" and mean a million gazillion miles. That because space is - like - really really really really really really really really really really BIG and everything so so friggen spread out. I'm trying to talk in less scientific terms. How am I doing?
At its closest, this Giza size rock - asteroid - thing was roughly 120,000 miles from the Earth. That would be roughly halfway between us and the moon. In space terms. that was scary close.
I have one more question. We are actually getting much better at spotting these things, even though we missed this one. But do we have a plan to do anything about it if one comes right at us?
YES! Thankfully. The DART probe (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) will launch next month, targeting a small asteroid roughly twice the size of the one that just missed us. They will ram the probe into the rock, trying to move it. Cross your fingers because we need something. Don't want to go out like the dinosaurs do we?
There were two movies that came about around the same time about a giant impact on Earth. Armageddon was a big box office success. It was more of a comedy action movie, though fun to watch.
Personally I preferred the more serious movie Deep Impact. It still did well at the box office, though not as big of a success as the fun action movie. Deep Impact showed what an event like this might really be like. Though in both movies NASA sends up a shuttle to try and blow the thing up.