Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/4/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Asteroid will make the closest such pass in recorded history.

An asteroid about 50 yards across will speed past Earth faster than a bullet on Feb. 15, and the shave will be so close that it will pass beneath many satellites in Earth orbit. Scientists promise there is no chance for a collision.

Even today, more than a century later, the Siberian forest remains littered with the fallen remains of 80 million trees, flattened in a single, fiery instant.

Even today, more than a century later, the Siberian forest remains littered with the fallen remains of 80 million trees, flattened in a single, fiery instant.


By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

2/4/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Tunguska, Asteroid 2012 DA14, impact, Earth, close approach, size, dinosaurs

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In 1908 an event took place over remote Siberia known today as the "Tunguska event." Scientists speculate that an asteroid or cometary fragment exploded in the atmosphere above the heavily-forested wilderness. It leveled an estimated 80 million trees. The impact was about 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb that would be dropped on Hiroshima 37 years later.

People living miles away from the air burst reported being thrown to the ground by the shockwave with some victims temporarily losing hearing and vision. The blast and subsequent shaking, much like an earthquake, shattered windows. Instruments as far away as London detected the blast.

Such an impact could have destroyed an entire city.

Now, a similarly-sized rock is passing very close. In fact, it is the closest approach of an asteroid in recorded history.

Scientists have been watching Asteroid 2012 DA14, since it was discovered last year by amateur astronomers from Spain. The close approach has been of concern because of its tremendous destructive power. However, scientists stressed that even if the asteroid were on track to strike Earth, it would be unlikely to cause any substantial damage - given the likelihood that it would not land on a major metropolitan area. While it's dangerously sized, it's not a planet killer by any stretch.

Nonetheless, its discovery caused quite a stir.

Most scientists see the close approach as an opportunity to educate the public about the threat from asteroid impacts. While significant impacts are quite rare, happening only every several thousand years or so on average, major impacts can occur every several million years and have the potential to devastate life on the planet.

Scientists now believe that a major asteroid impact which took place 65 million years ago was so powerful and threw so much dust and debris into the atmosphere, that it killed the dinosaurs and most other life on the planet. By virtue of natural selection, a few small and lucky warm-blooded mammals survived this event and its freezing aftermath, which persisted for years.

Scientists know that Asteroid 2012 DA14 isn't so dramatic, but it is a typical asteroid and worth study. As it zips past the Earth on Feb. 15, ground-based radar will attempt to map the asteroid. Researchers want to know as much as they can find about the asteroid, including its true size, mass, composition, spin, and reflectivity.

Answering these questions can provide scientists with information that would be useful for devising solutions for improving detection of these objects. Detection is key because astronomers believe that another Tunguska event will happen again. They also believe that a major extinction-level event such as that which killed the dinosaurs will also happen again. It is simply a matter of time.

For now, those timescales are measured in thousands to millions of years.

Yet, what happens if a major object is discovered that's on a collision course with Earth? Knowing more about Asteroid 2012 DA14 will help engineers develop ways that might possibly deflect such a threat.

For now, humanity can breathe a sigh of relief and go about its business with relief. Asteroid 2012 DA14 doesn't pose a threat. A Tunguska-like event may happen again, but it's not going to be because of Asteroid 2012 DA14.

Still, it's nice to know there are dedicated teams of astronomers keeping an eye out for the rest of us, and scientists dedicated to learning more about the cosmos, hopefully ensuring that we too escape the dinosaurs' fate, should it someday come to that.


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More Technology

You can't miss this - New app opens up the invisible world of wireless signals right before your eyes Watch

Image of The Architecture of Radio application will give the user a much more


The new Smartphone app, "Architecture of Radio" will shortly be available for the price of $2.99, and will let those with Smartphones and tablets look into the "invisible world." The user will be able to wave their phone or tablet and see waves emanating from ... continue reading

Bet you've never seen a space rocket do THIS! Watch

Image of The New Shepherd rocket, safe on its West Texas launch pad, after the first-ever such landing made by a space rocket.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a technological upset, Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos has successfully tested a reusable rocket by flying it into space and landing it back on Earth. The test puts Bezo's Blue Origin ahead of Elon Musk's Space X in the race to develop a reusable rocket. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading

What the heck is Dark Matter and what's Triangulum II? Watch

Image of Triangulum II may have a greater concentration of dark matter than any other object yet observed.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Scientists have discovered a galaxy that may be composed mostly of dark matter. Dark matter is an elusive substance that is yet to be described by scientists. They know what it does, but not what it is. The discovery could help solve the mystery. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading

Anonymous VS ISIS: Hacker group launches counter-terrorism attacks from the shadows Watch

Image of Hacker group Anonymous takes on ISIS (YouTube).


While ISIS supporters and member utilize social media to attract recruits and sympathizers to their cause, hacker group Anonymous has stepped forward to fight back. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Following the Paris terror attacks Friday, hacker group Anonymous ... continue reading

3 reasons why having sex with robots is wrong, according to the Catholic Church Watch

Image of Should we have sex with robots? Not according to the teachings of the Church, and Natural Law itself.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

As robotics manufacturers look to the future, they're planning to tap into the multi-billion dollar sex industry. In the not-too distant future, people will be able to keep robot companions that provide them with sexual gratification. What happens when people begin ... continue reading

Ever wonder why the other line always moves faster? This book has the answer Watch

Image of The practice of lining up is taught in school and is a quintessential aspect of modern civilization.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Why does the other line move faster than yours? This is a question explored, and answered in a new book which used science and history to study standing in line. In "Why Does the Other Line Always Move Faster: The Myths and Misery, Secrets and Psychology of Waiting in ... continue reading

The unimaginable truth behind Facebook's threat to society that you need to know NOW Watch

Image of Has social media taken over?


Teenage internet sensation Essena O'Neill decided to leave social media behind after realizing it did nothing but make her dependent on anonymous "likes" and "shares." Her dependency on social media is just one of many. What else does social media cause? LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading

Move over Uber - Check out the newest 'Air Taxis' that the richest people will ride Watch

Image of Magnetic levitation technology produces the lift and forces the car to propel forward, which makes the system energy efficient.


Futuristic, "Jetsons" -styled "air taxis," that glide 20 to 30 feet above the air on elevated tracks will be debuting in Israel shortly. The dream project of Skytran, based in Mountain View, California had been perfecting the technology over the past five ... continue reading

Here are five shocking surprises from Comet 67P that are keeping scientists awake at night Watch

Image of Rosetta and the Philae lander. Both are on a three-year mission to gather data about comet 67P, but so far they've served to mystify as much as they have explained.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The recent announcement that Comet 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko (67P) is rich in oxygen molecules has sent scientists scurrying to explain this extraordinary finding. It is the latest in strange discoveries reported by the Rosetta spacecraft in orbit around the enigmatic ... continue reading

If it's not an alien megastructure, could it be... a black hole? Watch

Image of Could it be aliens? No.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Astronomers continue to puzzle over a distant star that for some reason, is having a substantial quantity of its light blocked from reaching Earth. The find is one-of-a-kind and is fueling speculation that intelligent life could be at work. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading

All Technology News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Opium, heroin or cocaine: What drug is YOUR country known for?
  • St. Eligius: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, December 01, 2015
  • Parents' Prayer For Their Children HD Video
  • Pope Francis does the unthinkable following emotional tragedy in ...
  • Prayer For Faith HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Tuesday, December 01, 2015
  • 'Body lifted from the ground': Young Central American woman dies ...

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Romans 10:9-18
9 that if you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and if you ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands on the ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 4:18-22
18 As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 30th, 2015 Image

St. Andrew
November 30: Andrew, like his brother Simon Peter, was a ... Read More