Tag Archives: Near Earth Objects

Asteroid Approaching!

Asteroid Approaching!

     An asteroid the size of a house is set to give Earth a close shave, and you can watch part of the space rock’s approach live online this evening (Oct. 11).
By Mike Wall
Space.com
10-11-17

The astronomy broadcasting service Slooh will air a webcast at 8 p.m. EDT tonight (0000 GMT on Oct. 12) focused on the space rock 2012 TC4, which will zoom by Earth just a few hours later. You can watch the show directly on Slooh’s website. You can also watch the webcast on Space.com, courtesy of Slooh.

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100-Foot Asteroid to Buzz Earth

100-Foot Asteroid to Buzz Earth

By NASA
2-2-16

     […]

During the upcoming March 5 flyby, asteroid 2013 TX68 could fly past Earth as far out as 9 million miles (14 million kilometers) or as close as 11,000 miles (17,000 kilometers). The variation in possible closest approach distances is due to the wide range of possible trajectories for this object, since it was tracked for only a short time after discovery.

Scientists at NASA’s Center for NEO Studies (CNEOS) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have determined there is no possibility that this object could impact Earth during the flyby next month. But they have identified an extremely remote chance that this small asteroid could impact on Sep. 28, 2017, with odds of no more than 1-in-250-million. Flybys in 2046 and 2097 have an even lower probability of impact.

“The possibilities of collision on any of the three future flyby dates are far too small to be of any real concern,” said Paul Chodas, manager of CNEOS. “I fully expect any future observations to reduce the probability even more.”

Asteroid 2013 TX68 is estimated to be about 100 feet (30 meters) in diameter. By comparison, the asteroid that broke up in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, three years ago was approximately 65 feet (20 meters) wide. If an asteroid the size of 2013 TX68 were to enter Earth’s atmosphere, it would likely produce an air burst with about twice the energy of the Chelyabinsk event.

The asteroid was discovered by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey on Oct. 6, 2013, as it approached Earth on the nighttime side. After three days of tracking, the asteroid passed into the daytime sky and could no longer be observed. Because it was not tracked for very long, scientists cannot predict its precise orbit around the sun, but they do know that it cannot impact Earth during its flyby next month. […]

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NASA’s New Planetary Defense Office Protecting Earth

NASA's New Planetary Defense Office Protecting Earth

By Leonard David
SPACE.com
2-1-16

PDCO will synchronize U.S. efforts and coordinate with international agencies
to deal with large asteroids and comets on a collision course with Earth

     In early January, NASA announced the establishment of a Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), which will synchronize U.S. efforts to deal with threatening near-Earth objects (NEOs) and will supervise all NASA-funded projects to find and characterize asteroids and comets that visit Earth’s neighborhood.

“There is no identified threat that we know of right now,” said Lindley Johnson, NASA’s new planetary defense officer.

“Our job is to look for that and identify a NEO as far in advance as we can,” Johnson told Space.com in an exclusive interview. “Doing so means we have the maximum amount of time to appropriately deal with the object, be it a small impactor or something that’s larger, calling for a kinetic impactor mission, or whatever needs to be done.” […]

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‘NASA Has Been … Planning For Planetary Defense For Some Time’

'NASA Has Been … Planning For Planetary Defense For Some Time'

NASA Office to Coordinate Asteroid Detection, Hazard Mitigation

By Jet Propulsion Laboratory
1-7-16

     NASA has formalized its ongoing program for detecting and tracking near-Earth objects (NEOs) as the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO). The office remains within NASA’s Planetary Science Division, in the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The office will be responsible for supervision of all NASA-funded projects to find and characterize asteroids and comets that pass near Earth’s orbit around the sun. It will also take a leading role in coordinating interagency and intergovernmental efforts in response to any potential impact threats.

More than 13,500 near-Earth objects of all sizes have been discovered to date — more than 95 percent of them since NASA-funded surveys began in 1998. About 1,500 NEOs are now detected each year.

“Asteroid detection, tracking and defense of our planet is something that NASA, its interagency partners, and the global community take very seriously,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “While there are no known impact threats at this time, the 2013 Chelyabinsk super-fireball and the recent ‘Halloween Asteroid’ close approach remind us of why we need to remain vigilant and keep our eyes to the sky.”

NASA has been engaged in worldwide planning for planetary defense for some time, and this office will improve and expand on those efforts, working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal agencies and departments.

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NASA has formalized its ongoing program for detecting and tracking near-Earth objects (NEOs) as the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO). The office remains within NASA’s Planetary Science Division, in the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The office will be responsible for supervision of all NASA-funded projects to find and characterize asteroids and comets that pass near Earth’s orbit around the sun. It will also take a leading role in coordinating interagency and intergovernmental efforts in response to any potential impact threats.

More than 13,500 near-Earth objects of all sizes have been discovered to date — more than 95 percent of them since NASA-funded surveys began in 1998. About 1,500 NEOs are now detected each year.

“Asteroid detection, tracking and defense of our planet is something that NASA, its interagency partners, and the global community take very seriously,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “While there are no known impact threats at this time, the 2013 Chelyabinsk super-fireball and the recent ‘Halloween Asteroid’ close approach remind us of why we need to remain vigilant and keep our eyes to the sky.”

NASA has been engaged in worldwide planning for planetary defense for some time, and this office will improve and expand on those efforts, working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal agencies and departments.

In addition to detecting and tracking potentially hazardous objects, the office will issue notices of close passes and warnings of any detected potential impacts, based on credible science data. The office also will continue to assist with coordination across the U.S. government, participating in the planning for response to an actual impact threat, working in conjunction with FEMA, the Department of Defense, other U.S. agencies and international counterparts.

“The formal establishment of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office makes it evident that the agency is committed to perform a leadership role in national and international efforts for detection of these natural impact hazards, and to be engaged in planning if there is a need for planetary defense,” said Lindley Johnson, longtime NEO program executive and now lead program executive for the office, with the title of Planetary Defense Officer.

Astronomers detect near-Earth objects using ground-based telescopes around the world as well as NASA’s space-based NEOWISE infrared telescope. Tracking data are provided to a global database maintained by the Minor Planet Center, sanctioned by the International Astronomical Union. Once detected, orbits are precisely predicted and monitored by the Center for NEO Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Select NEOs are further characterized by assets such as NASA’s InfraRed Telescope Facility, Spitzer Space Telescope and interplanetary radars operated by NASA and the National Science Foundation. Such efforts are coordinated and funded by NASA’s longtime NEO Observations Program, which will continue as a research program under the office.

The Planetary Defense Coordination Office is being applauded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which supports research and education in science and engineering. “NSF welcomes the increased visibility afforded to this critical activity,” said Nigel Sharp, program director in the agency’s Division of Astronomical Sciences. “We look forward to continuing the fruitful collaboration across the agencies to bring all of our resources — both ground-based and space-based — to the study of this important problem.”

With more than 90 percent of NEOs larger than 3,000 feet (1 kilometer) already discovered, NASA is now focused on finding objects that are slightly bigger than a football field — 450 feet (140 meters) or larger. In 2005, NASA was tasked with finding 90 percent of this class of NEOs by the end of 2020. NASA-funded surveys have detected an estimated 25 percent of these mid-sized but still potentially hazardous objects to date.

NASA’s long-term planetary defense goals include developing technology and techniques for deflecting or redirecting objects that are determined to be on an impact course with Earth. NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission concept would demonstrate the effectiveness of the gravity tractor method of planetary defense, using the mass of another object to pull an asteroid slightly from its original orbital path. The joint NASA-European Space Agency Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission concept, if pursued, would demonstrate an impact deflection method of planetary defense.

Even if intervention is not possible, NASA would provide expert input to FEMA about impact timing, location and effects to inform emergency response operations. In turn, FEMA would handle the preparations and response planning related to the consequences of atmospheric entry or impact to U.S. communities.

“FEMA is dedicated to protecting against all hazards, and the launch of the coordination office will ensure early detection and warning capability, and will further enhance FEMA’s collaborative relationship with NASA,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.

The concept of a central office to coordinate asteroid detection and mitigation has been under consideration since 2010, when an Ad-Hoc Task Force on Planetary Defense of the NASA Advisory Council recommended that NASA “organize for effective action on planetary defense and prepare to respond to impact threats,” and should “lead U.S. planetary defense efforts in national and international forums.” In addition, a NASA Office of Inspector General 2014 report concluded that the NEO Observations Program would be more “efficient, effective and transparent” if it were organized and managed in accordance with standard NASA research program requirements.

The NEO Observations Program operated on a budget of $4 million as recently as fiscal year 2010. That same year, the President announced a new goal for NASA — a human mission to an asteroid. The President’s fiscal year 2012 budget included, and Congress appropriated, $20.4 million for an expanded NASA NEO Observations Program. The agency’s Asteroid Grand Challenge to find all asteroid threats also launched in 2012. Funding for the NEO program doubled to $40 million in 2014, which increased the rate of detection of new NEOs by 40 percent and jump-started research into potential asteroid deflection techniques.

In 2015, NASA’s NEO Observations Program supported 54 ongoing projects, including detection and tracking campaigns, asteroid characterization efforts and radar projects. Nine studies were funded to explore techniques for impact mitigation.

The recently passed federal budget for fiscal year 2016 includes $50 million for NEO observations and planetary defense, representing a more than ten-fold increase since the beginning of the current administration.

For regular updates on passing asteroids, NASA has an asteroid widget that lists the next five close approaches to Earth; it links to the CNEOS website with a complete list of recent and upcoming close approaches, as well as all other data on the orbits of known NEOs, so scientists and members of the media and public can track information on known objects.

For more information on NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, visit:

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Huge Asteroid Skirts Earth On Christmas Eve | PHOTOs

Huge Asteroid Skirts Earth On Christmas Eve
These images of an asteroid that is at least 3,600 feet (1,100 meters) long were taken on Dec. 17, 2015, (left) and Dec. 22 (right) by scientists using NASA’s 230-foot (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California. This asteroid, named 2003 SD2020, will safely fly past Earth on Thursday, Dec. 24, at a distance of 6.8 million miles (11 million kilometers). On Dec. 17, it was about 7.3 million miles (12 million kilometers) from Earth. By Dec. 22, it was closing in on its Christmas Eve flyby distance.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR

By NASA
12-23-15

    Asteroid 2003 SD220 will safely fly past Earth on Dec. 24 at a distance of 6.8 million miles (11 million kilometers). Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have generated the highest-resolution images to date of this asteroid using the Deep Space Network’s 230-foot (70-meter) antenna at Goldstone, California. The radar images were acquired between Dec. 17 and Dec. 22, when the distance to this near-Earth object (NEO) was narrowing from 7.3 million miles (12 million kilometers) to almost the flyby distance.

“The radar images data suggest that asteroid 2003 SD220 is highly elongated and at least 3,600 feet [1,100 meters] in length,” said Lance Benner of JPL, who leads NASA’s asteroid radar research program. “The data acquired during this pass of the asteroid will help us plan for radar imaging during its upcoming closer approach in 2018.”

Three years from now, the asteroid will safely fly past Earth again, but even closer, at a distance of 1.8 million miles (2.8 million kilometers). The 2018 flyby will be the closest the asteroid will get to Earth until 2070, when it is expected to safely fly past our planet at a distance of about 1.7 million miles (2.7 million kilometers).

“There is no cause for concern over the upcoming flyby of asteroid 2003 SD220 this Christmas Eve,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for NEO Studies at JPL. “The closest this object will come to Santa and his eight tiny reindeer is about 28 times the distance between Earth and the moon.” […]

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Bus-Size Asteroid Buzzes Earth (12-19-15)

Bus-Size Asteroid Buzzes Earth
This size comparison shows the size of asteroid 2015 YB as compared to professional soccer player Lionel “The Flea” Messi. Credit: Slooh Community Observatory

By Mike Wall
Space.com
12-19-15

     A newly discovered asteroid the size of a city bus gave Earth a close shave this morning (Dec. 19), zipping well within the orbit of the moon.

The near-Earth asteroid 2015 YB, which is about 34 feet (10 meters) wide, cruised within a mere 36,800 miles (59,220 kilometers) of the planet at around 7 a.m. EST (1200 GMT) today, just two days after the space rock was first spotted.

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