Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Here Comes A BIG One!

Radar image of 2005 YU55.

It's time for watching the skies again, as a large asteroid passes pretty close to the Earth. Asteroid 2005 YU55 is expected to zoom past our planet at about 4:28 p.m. Mountain Time this afternoon. By Pretty Close I mean Pretty Close. Many close calls are actually several times the distance between the Earth and Moon, but this one will actually come closer to Earth than the Moon does!

Scientists have been closely tracking this asteroid with radar-imaging telescopes to precisely verify its trajectory and speed. We should be quite safe, as its orbit around the Sun has already been established. This gives researchers a chance to observe a close up asteroid and learn more about the dangers that could be posed to the Earth by these close misses.

You see, this isn't some little po-dunk bus-sized little rock, this one is as big as an aircraft carrier! Yes, it would survive going through the atmosphere and smack us good, but it looks like it will miss (phew!)

The last time a rock this size passed this close to the Earth (about 200,000 miles away) was in 1976. That pass by was undetected until scientists caught it going away (lucky us). The next approach of an object this big won't be until about 2028.

2005 YU55 will continue on past us and continue circling the Sun, passing by the Earth, Venus and Mars.

Down here in the Bunker we are glad that our scientists will get such a close opportunity to study and analyze the enemy's weapons. Should this have hit the Earth, the damage would have been quite appreciable, creating a crater larger than that found at Meteor Crater in Arizona. Celebrate the Near-Miss with a toast to the Near-Earth-Observations Program at JPL and NASA. The more we learn about these objects, the safer we can be in the War against the Comet Empire and their Allies, the Asteroids.

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