Asteroid near hit could have been another Chelyabinsk

On October 10, 2013 by Mike

Cut to the chase…

I just returned from a workshop on robotic and autonomous astronomy where I met some interesting characters. It’s been a long time since I’ve been immersed in such an environment and it was kind of ‘spooky’ but fun at the same time. Anyway, one of the fellows there was Vladimir Lipunov from Moscow State University. He runs a telescope network that observes optical transients. They’re not dedicated to asteroids (as PHASTT would be) but a consequence of their work is that they occasionally find them. And their most recent discovery was, to say the least, a good (scary) one.

Asteroid Vesta as imaged by the Dawn spacecraft. NASA

Asteroid Vesta as imaged by the Dawn spacecraft. NASA

If you click the link at the top of the page you’ll read about a 15m object that passed within 11,300km of the earth. For comparison, the Earth has a diameter of something like 12,700km. So, that was a close call. But what would the consequences have been had it hit? Well, if it was an iron, it may have left a small crater strewn field and damaged any building in its path. More than likely, though, it was a rock body that would have exploded some 10’s km above the ground and it would have looked something like this,

It’s objects like this, that PHASTT will try to find and characterize before they hit. And we could use your support on our Indiegogo campaigns!


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