Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday, 6 April 2014

They're behind you!

Having said yesterday that there was little happening on the asteroid front, I am delighted to have been proved wrong.

Eagle-eyed astronomers have just published close approach data for two bus-sized asteroids which passed us undetected last Wednesday and Thursday, both around the 700,000km mark, and were observed two days later.

While these were relative tiddlers and probably not easy to spot, the fact remains that they were not seen until they were on their way back into the void. This is somewhat disquieting, taken in conjunction with the recent announcement from the B612 Foundation (charmingly named after the asteroid home of Saint-Exupery's 'Le Petit Prince').

At a conference later this month, CEO and former astronaut Dr Ed Lu (as regulars may remember, we've met him here before) will unveil a video representation of data from the Nuclear Weapons Testing Network:
This network has detected 26 multi-kiloton explosions since 2001, all of which are due to asteroid impacts.
Dr Lu's expert opinion is worryingly clear:
The fact that none of these asteroid impacts shown in the video was detected in advance, is proof that the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a “city-killer” sized asteroid is blind luck.
I'll drink to that!

(I'll also be drinking to another flyby tonight's - 2014 GN1, 40m wide passing at around 937,000km - so please feel free to join me and raise a virtual glass in salute.)