PLANETARY SOCIETY INDIA
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What will happen on the night of 15/16 Feb Night ? At 12.55 a.m. a space rock called “Asteroid 2012 DA14” will have closest approach to earth. It will flyby earth at distance of 27,700 km (above the surface of Earth) on 16th February at 12:10 a.m. IST. Size of this asteroid is estimated to be 45 meters (147 Feet). And it’s moving at speed of 7.8 km/sec. This asteroid was discovered on February 23, 2012 in Spain. However there is no chance of this space rock hitting Earth or Moon now or in near future.
Where is this asteroid located and what does it do. When again it will have closest approach to earth. When was the last time it came close to earth in the past ? Presently it orbits Sun once in 368 Days due to present encounter it will reduce to 317 days.
The next time it will have closest approach is in 15th February 2019 and would be at 6,91,64,078 km i.e. around 7 Crore Km. Whereas it will be this close to earth in year 2046 on 16 February at distance of 66,608km. The last time it came close was on 16th February 2012 and was at 26,06,840 km i.e. 26 Lakh Km. Presently this is an object for fear mongering by some doomsayers on the web.
What is an asteroid? Where are there found ? What is there origin?
Astronomically speaking Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. The term "asteroid" is ill-defined. It never had a formal definition, with the broader term minor planet being preferred by the International Astronomical Union from 1853. In 2006, the term "small Solar System body" was introduced to cover both most minor planets and comets.
In simple words asteroids are many of rocky small bodies that orbit the Sun mainly in a flat ring called the asteroid belt between the orbits of Planet Mars and Jupiter. It is believed Asteroids are leftovers (during the process) of planet formation in our solar system.
In the past was Earth hit by Asteroids/Comets ? Is there any impact crater in India? Yes there are 183 confirmed Impact Craters across the world . Yes in India we have Impact Crater which is located in Maharastra and it known as Lonar Crater .
How Dinosaur got extinct from Planet Earth? The bulk of the evidence now suggests that a bolide 5 to 15 kilometers (3 to 9 mi) wide hit in the vicinity of the Yucatán Peninsula (in southeastern Mexico), creating the approximately 180 km (110 mi) Chicxulub Crater and triggering the mass extinction. The asteroid collision theory, which was brought to wide attention in 1980 by Walter Alvarez and colleagues which links the extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous period to a bolide impact approximately 65 million years ago.
What are potentially Hazardous Asteroids? Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. Presently none of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.
ALL ABOUT ASTEROID 2012 DA14:
What is the weight of this object ? Its estimated to be 1,90,000 metric tons in weight. And is valued at 200 Billion Dollars.
Why is it so important ? Both Meteor Crater in Arizona, USA and the impact in Tunguska, Siberia on June 30, 1908 were caused by roughly 140-foot asteroids. The blast wave from the explosion of Tunguska asteroid flattened about 2000 square miles of forest.
How frequently such asteroids come closer to earth. What are chances of hitting earth? Once in 40 years asteroids with size of 2012 DA14 come close to earth. Whereas as far such asteroids hitting is concerned once in every 1200 year we can expect the asteroid to hit earth.
Will it hit Earth in the future?Not in the next few decades, but there are small chances that it will hit after that including a 1 in 7.5 million chance of hitting in 2110.
IF it hit Earth in the future, how big would the impact be?The energy equivalent would be about that of a 2 to 3 megaton nuclear weapon (nearly 200 times the energy release at Hiroshima). It would be comparable to the Tunguska impact in 1908 that leveled 2000 square kilometers of forest in Siberia. It could destroy a city if it happened to hit one.
Could the DA14 asteroid collide with a GEO satellite and disrupt service Or International Space Station? It may be noted that the asteroid not only passes much closer to Earth than the Moon's orbit, but even closer than geosynchronous satellites (e.g., satellite TV satellites).While the trajectory of DA14 brings it closer to the Earth than the communications satellites which orbit at about 36,000 kms from Earth. So there is no risk of collision or disruption in service.
International Space Stations operates at 440 km from Earth. Whereas majority of satellites operate from Low Earth Orbit. So this asteroid is not in path or be danger for satellites.
How long ago did we learn of DA14 and its impending close flyby of Earth? Can we say we had sufficient time. If at all it was on collision course ? And what is the best we could have done ? DA14 was discovered on February 13, 2012, just one year in advance of its close flyby of Earth. Had it been on a collision course with Earth on February 15, 2013, there would not have been enough time to prepare a mission to deflect it. While we would have been able to accurately predict its impact location on Earth, our only possible response would have been to evacuate the area and hope for the best.
Are Scientists sure 16 Feb 2013. Asteroid 2012 DA14 will not hit Earth. What about Others? Yes prominently space organizations like NASA are keeping a close eye on this asteroid. Importantly since over a year this object is being studied by various observatories across the world. If at all if there was a indication of danger alternative steps would have been taken to prevent and protect earth.
Can we spot this Asteroid 2012 DA14? How? And Healthy human eye can see upto max. 6 Magnitude objects in sky. Hence this asteroid is not visible to naked eye but can be spotted with help of Astronomical Telescopes. The best viewing location for the closest approach will be Indonesia. Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia are also well situated to see the asteroid.
How it will appear from Telescopes/Binoculars? It will appear like fastly moving Dot of light moving across various pattern of Stars from South to North Direction in sky.
How many asteroids similar to DA14 or larger could threaten Earth? There are roughly a million asteroids larger than DA-14 whose orbits cross Earth’s orbit. We know this because we have only discovered about ten thousand of these asteroids, and we know that current telescopes have only effectively surveyed about one percent of the volume of space in which these asteroids orbit. Therefore we have only discovered about one percent of these asteroids!
Even though the risk of collision from DA14 is extremely low, is there anything that could raise or change the risk of impact for future generations? DA14’s encounter with the Earth is so close that the asteroid’s orbit will be significantly changed—from an asteroid “year” of 366 days to only 317 days. The path will also be changed substantially, but we can calculate what that change will be. DA14 will pass at large distances from the Earth every six to seven years, with the next close approach in February 2047.
Will we be able to study the DA14 asteroid as it passes the Earth? What might we hope to learn about it? The passage of an asteroid at such a small distance from the Earth gives astronomers an unusual opportunity to study it in detail. DA14 will be quite bright, and while probably not visible to the unaided eye, it will be easily detectable with binoculars. Telescopes will be able to collect a lot of information on the size, shape, rotation and composition of DA-14. Radar observations will give us very precise measurements of its orbital track, which will improve our knowledge of its future movements.
How to Spot Planet Jupiter, Saturn & Venus in the Sky ? These days after Sunset one can see Jupiter above head and as the night progress one can it movement across the sky till 12.30 in the night. Whereas Saturn can be located in East Direction from 1.00 a.m. onwards. Venus though difficult to spot can be seen minutes before Sunrise in East.
Why is B612’s Sentinel Space Telescope so important? Sentinel is designed to find and track Near Earth Asteroids—over 90% of the ones larger than 400 feet in diameter—and at least 50% of those 200 feet in diameter. Sentinel will track these asteroids and give us decades of advance warning if any of them will collide with Earth. This is enough warning that we will be able to deflect an impending impact using well developed concepts like kinetic impactors and gravity tractors. Sentinel will enable us to protect the Earth by preventing future asteroid impacts.
What are the various strategies to Stop Collision a incoming object ? 1. Asteroid Tractors 2. Nuclear Explosions 3. Multiple Explosions 4. Kinetic impactor 5. Solar Sail 6. Mass driver 7. Lots of Paint It is not a matter of whether there will be a dangerous impact, it is a matter of when. We need to find, track, and characterize these objects and develop the technical and political capability to deflect an asteroid.
How will asteroid mining benefit humanity? * Water resources: enabling the large-scale exploration of the Solar System. * Metal resources: for use in the growing Earth economy * Scientific knowledge: via spacecraft that are dramatically more cost-effective than current systems. * Environment: off-planet resources will contribute to sustainability. * Economic growth: large-scale exploration of space will create new jobs and businesses.
Isn’t asteroid mining science fiction? Exploring for alternate resource deposits is not science fiction. Harnessing valuable minerals from a practically infinite source will provide stability on Earth. The location of this source is a new concept for many.. Also, asteroids are not processed bodies like the Earth and the Moon, so their mineral deposits are more uniform throughout.
Aren’t asteroids too remote and difficult to access? Actually, some near-Earth objects are the most accessible destinations in the Solar System. There are over 1,500 asteroids that are as easy to reach as the Moon. These “space rocks” contain a range of minerals, from water to platinum. Asteroid mining will provide sustainable resources on Earth and will afford the availability to maintain a human presence in space. They have Earth-like orbits and they also have small gravity fields. So, we can reach them with very little propulsion. Not only are they easier to reach, but it is relatively easy to depart from them and come back to Earth because of their very small gravity field and their orbits. There are over 1,500 asteroids that are as easy to reach as the surface of the Moon. These ‘space rocks’ contain a range of minerals from water to platinum. Asteroid mining will provide sustainable resources on Earth and will afford the availability to maintain a human presence in space.
What is asteroid prospecting? Is it possible to mine a body with a small gravity field? It is the process of assessing the material resources an asteroid contains. Using telescopic remote sensing, we can measure and value an asteroid in space with more ease and precision than an ore body below Earth’s surface.
Conventional terrestrial mining techniques rely on the presence of gravity, developed over hundreds of years of our evolving understanding of the way materials behave. The microgravity environment presents unique challenges for materials acquisition and processing that require a different way of thinking about the problem. Problems associated material transport and handling must be solved with a new set of tools.
If some asteroids are so resource-rich, wouldn’t extracting billions of dollars of resources devalue the market? The global economy is truly enormous – global GDP is over US$70 trillion annually. Second, in order for every person on Earth to reach the standard of living enjoyed by Americans today, global GDP would more than quadruple, reaching nearly $330 trillion annually.
Third, history shows that an increase in ease of access to resources often leads to an expansion, not a shrinkage, of the associated industries, as well as the development of new technologies that use that resource.