March 4, 2012

The Earth is going to end

Oh no!!! You haven't heard this one before, there is a large rock headed for the Planet Earth and it will pass very, very close to our planet.

To avert a possible catastrophe – this time set for February 2013 – scientists suggest confronting asteroid 2012 DA14 with either paint or big guns. The stickler is that time has long run out to build a spaceship to carry out the operation.

NASA's data shows the 60-meter asteroid, spotted by Spanish stargazers in February, will whistle by Earth in 11 months. Its trajectory will bring it within a hair’s breadth of our planet, raising fears of a possible collision.

The asteroid, known as DA14, will pass by our planet in February 2013 at a distance of under 27,000 km (16,700 miles). This is closer than the geosynchronous orbit of some satellites.

While the truth is we don't know if the thing is going to even hit the Earth - there's a serious problem we're going to have to contend with... time. It would take us puny humans a couple years to build a spaceship capable of handling this rock. Now experts think that it could either burn up in our atmosphere or if it were to hit it would be like somebody set off a thermo-nuclear bomb (not an earth or human civilization killer) - but still nobody wants to play musical chairs with physics. An idea has come up with a very interesting way to handle this rock...

A spaceship is needed, experts agree. It could shoot the rock down or just crash into it, either breaking the asteroid into debris or throwing it off course.

“We could paint it,” says NASA expert David Dunham.

Paint would affect the asteroid’s ability to reflect sunlight, changing its temperature and altering its spin. The asteroid would stalk off its current course, but this could also make the boulder even more dangerous when it comes back in 2056, Aleksandr Devaytkin, the head of the observatory in Russia’s Pulkovo, told Izvestia.

Yeah not quite Armageddon hero stuff, just astronauts with spray cans. While this story is just a bit sensationalized ... there's no real proof that this thing is going to hit the Earth... it's kind of a scary thought because the United States doesn't have an effective space vehicle to use. Whoopsie.

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