Asteroid To Fly By Earth Wednesday Is a Natural

Jan 13, 2010
Orbital diagram depicts the trajectory of asteroid 2010 AL30 during its flyby of Earth in the early morning hours of Jan. 13. Image credit: NASA/JPL

(PhysOrg.com) -- Asteroid 2010 AL30, discovered by the LINEAR survey of MIT's Lincoln Laboratories on Jan. 10, will make a close approach to the Earth's surface to within 76,000 miles on Jan. 13 at 12:46 pm Greenwich time (7:46 am EST, 4:46 am PST).

Because its orbital period is nearly identical to the Earth's one year period, some have suggested it may be a manmade rocket stage in about the . However, this object's orbit reaches the orbit of Venus at its closest point to the sun and nearly out to the orbit of Mars at its furthest point, crossing the Earth's orbit at a very steep angle.

This makes it very unlikely that 2010 AL30 is a rocket stage. Furthermore, trajectory extrapolations show that this object cannot be associated with any recent launch and it has not made any close approaches to the since well before the Space Age began.

It seems more likely that this is a near-Earth about 10-15 meters in size, one of approximately 2 million such objects in near-Earth space. One would expect a near-Earth asteroid of this size to pass within the moon's distance about once every week on average. The asteroid does not pose a risk, in fact, stony asteroids under 25 meters in diameter would be expected to burn up in our atmosphere, causing little or no ground damage.

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User comments : 17

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meeker
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 13, 2010
Before they didn't know what it was ... and now they are saying it's an "asteroid," huh?

This has conspiracy written all over it, which is then blacked out with a Sharpie.

UPDATE: I just checked the skies with my new trinoculars and yup ... it's definitely a flying saucer and it's spinning out of control. Aaaaahhhh. Aaah. Oh, wait ... nevermind. It was just my thumb.
RayCherry
5 / 5 (2) Jan 13, 2010
The asteroid does not pose a risk, in fact, stony asteroids under 25 meters in diameter would be expected to burn up in our atmosphere, causing little or no ground damage.


Just like the 10m one in Peru two years ago? :-/
otto1923
1 / 5 (4) Jan 13, 2010
Tell me people here dont like conspiracy theories... How about this: one exercise during the secret post-Apollo US/USSR space program involved redirecting asteroids toward earth. Why you say? Why toward earth and not away from it? Possibly to begin accruing construction materials in accessible orbits. Possibly for use in pending large-scale social engineering events. Or instead, maybe the number of near-misses we've seen over the past 10 years or so were successful diversions. At any rate this latest visitor was the result of shepherding. Indeed, the number of near-misses we have had in this short time span make one wonder why we havent been hit by something tsunguska-sized more frequently. Or perhaps Nemesis is real? Or something is otherwise swarming the inner system that we arent supposed to know about?
Eco_R1
5 / 5 (3) Jan 14, 2010
the 10 meter on in peru was infact 10m, but it was 10 m when it reached the earth
winthrom
5 / 5 (3) Jan 14, 2010
The reason we have more near misses lately is because we are aware they are happening. Better telescopes! Previously we were "fat-dumb-and-happy" now we are not happy but still fat and dumb.
yyz
4 / 5 (2) Jan 14, 2010
Images, movies & decent animation of the Earth seen from 2010 AL30 over at Universe Today: http://www.univer...10-al30/ . A possible connection to Venus Express-Fregat booster (launched 2005) is mentioned. Also, initial reports from Goldstone reveal an object with fairly high reflectivity that's tumbling rapidly. Is this a general feature of Apollo asteroids (as some have attributed this objects status) or fairly rare?
mayan
Jan 14, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
bmerc
2 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2010
It is hard to believe that in this day and age that people can start claiming all sorts of things to something flying around in space and makes some people post rambaling that is impossible to know what they are claiming, but just look at some of the posts about this news or during the time Comet Hale-Bopp was visible and the cult the Heaven's Gate drank the coolaid, these type of things really does draw the wackos out.
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 14, 2010
Well, I see at least 2 people disagree...
The reason we have more near misses lately is because we are aware they are happening.
Assumption. The volume and proximity I submit are worrisome. Does anyone know if this is unusual or not?
rambaling
I can spell better than you. Paranoia is only a heightened sense of awareness.
Phelankell
not rated yet Jan 14, 2010
Keep in mind some of these near earth objects were not always near Earth.

The Solar system moves through the galaxy on epically long time scales. How are we to know that we won't be passing through an overly large asteroid belt that is not gravitationally locked to us? Looking at the history of the solar system it's potentially feasable that we could enter another "mass bombardment" period simply by reentering or initially entering a hidden cache of these legacy extrasolar belts.
antialias
5 / 5 (2) Jan 14, 2010
It's very hard to detect objects of that size early. AFAIK there is an effort under way to catalog objects larger than 1km in diameter in the solar system. Smaller obects are hard to spot (and depending on their albedo this may be next to impossible)

Also note that we aren't looking in all directions at once since the detection requires some intense focusing and long exposures. Sometimes such objects are found by hobby astronomers who just happen to look in unusual directions. Commercial/scientific telescopes usually have strict timetables for scientific observations and aren't really set up for willy-nilly searches of probably empty patches of sky for the the odd tumbling rock. They aim to get the most bang for the buck.
RayCherry
4 / 5 (1) Jan 17, 2010
@Phelankell: I was not aware that our Soler System was moving 'through' any galaxy. Could you please indicate the source of this information? According to the literature I have read, there is some agreement that we are near the end of one of the two extending spiral arms of the Milky Way, quite a distance from the majority of the solar systems and clusters orbiting the galactic center. Unless the Milky Way is converging with another galaxy, (for which I have no information), then our solar system is in a (relatively) safe place and on a clear course around the periphery of the galaxy. The only materials with a remote chance of hitting Earth are of original within this Solar System, and can be asteroids from the Main or Kuiper belts, or Comets from the Oort Cloud. A bombardment of materials from beyond this system is very remote, especially as no astronomer has seen any other star system on a converging course with ours. Brown Dwarf planetary systems may exist, but can detect them now.
RayCherry
not rated yet Jan 17, 2010
@antialias: I get what you are saying, and a couple of years ago I was saying the same kind of thing.

Recently however there have been multiple launches of 'Wide Field' and and extremely sensitive infrared telescopes that are not just looking far into the outer Universe, but are also cataloging relatively nearby low-reflection and cold objects. Hopefully these near-sky surveys will yield more information about the numbers, variety and potential risk of many more asteroids, planetoids and comets.

I am particularly hopeful of some better figures for the Oort Cloud. Understand how much material is sitting in orbit in the distant spherical periphery of our Solar System is essential not only for risk/response analysis, but also for potential (seemingly distant future) attempts at bringing water and life to other planets/moons of this system.

For more information about these surveys, look up the "WIRE" and "WISE" projects, and the new Antarctic telescope location being considered.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jan 17, 2010
Unless the Milky Way is converging with another galaxy, (for which I have no information)

We are on a collision course with the Andromeda galaxy. But that will still take another 4-5 billion years to happen.

How are we to know that we won't be passing through an overly large asteroid belt that is not gravitationally locked to us?

Because if they are gravitationally locked to us (and our galaxy in general) they will be mostly moving in the same direction as us. So there's little chance of suddenly meeting up with huge nmuber of objects on a collision course.

That said: it only needs one object of the right speed and the right size to cause us serious problems. So I think it's really a good idea that we're stepping up out catalogueing efforts. Shoemaker-Levy 9 _should_ have been a wake-up call.
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 18, 2010
Ray-
Our movement relative to other objects and vice versa, and to the galaxy in general, is far from static or isolated:
http://adsabs.har...21..125D
-This ocillation is only one movement which some think puts us in peril-
RayCherry
not rated yet Jan 18, 2010
@Otto: this study is looking for a possible coincidence between large impacts and the passage of our Solar System above and below the ecliptic plane of the Milky Way. If the rotation of the galaxy is approx. three thousand years, then we may pass through that plane once each fifteen hundred years. The large impacts and possible consequent large extinction events are calendared to within hundreds of thousands of years. Even if we could get down to tens of thousands of years, that would permit six or seven passages through the galactic plane. Not very convincing, but an interesting idea.

Some people are convinced that a bombardment of Oort Cloud objects has occurred before and will again ... but it is still a bit "Planet X". However, the passage through the galactic plane must disrupt normal orbit patterns for all Solar System bodies, and perhaps can cause Oort Cloud collisions providing a group of new long period comets.
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 19, 2010
Ray buddy,
rotation of the galaxy is approx. three thousand years
Thats a little too fast. Try this one:
http://www.centau.../?p=1378
-Note nice pic-
-I think youre picturing us as stuck in some kind of interstellar glue which makes everything in the vicinity move in sync. Truth is we're moving significantly in relation to everything around us and vice versa. this movement takes us through many boundaries, clouds, shock waves, etc which can perturb oort cloud objects and send foreigners sailing through our midst at considerable speeds. Just because we havent seen Nemesis doesnt rule out the possibility that the sun is part of a binary system either.

-Anybody consider this flyby as a harbinger? Comets were traditionally considered portents of disaster. Flyby on Weds; Haiti on Tues. Scary stuff, eh boys and girls?
Phelankell
not rated yet Jan 20, 2010
Because if they are gravitationally locked to us (and our galaxy in general) they will be mostly moving in the same direction as us. So there's little chance of suddenly meeting up with huge nmuber of objects on a collision course.

Two things,

1) I did say not gravitationally locked to the solar system.
2)Gravitationally locked to the Milky Way says nothing of the relative speed within the galaxy as it relates to our solar system.