Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/4/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

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.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

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 March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Technology

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH? Next step in human evolution could lead to eternal youth Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Humanity's life expectancy has grown over the years, thanks to medical advances. However, this does not necessarily translate into quality of life. Living longer sometimes means living in increasingly reduced circumstances due to infirmity and old age. ... continue reading


NASA's top scientist believes signs of alien life will be discovered 'within a decade' Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"I think we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we're going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years," NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan said. The proclamation was made during a panel discussion that ... continue reading


From battle weapons to photographers, drones now cleverly used as advertisement model Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Over the past few years, drones have become efficient in making deliveries, serving as waiters and even doing photography on sporting events. Now, drones are starting to fly with advertisements. According Eugene Stark, founder of the company Hoovy, drones have ... continue reading


Removing human error: Planes without pilots new, viable option Watch

Image of Some advocates for air safety say that current advances in sensor technology, computing and artificial intelligence are making human pilots less necessary than ever in the cockpit.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Following the Germanwings tragedy, when a distraught copilot slammed a plane into the French Alps in a suicide that cost the lives of 150 other people on board, many are questioning the validity of pilots on planes. Some argue that human pilots are in fact ... continue reading


Is Facebook changing? Facebook plans to conquer the virtual world this year Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Facebook's chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer promised that the Virtual Reality (VR) program will come into life within the year. The Oculus headset, which was on their top secret list before, was announced to be available soon, but the exact release date is not ... continue reading


Smartphones and Internet may be putting your child's mental health in jeopardy Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil

The number of young people being admitted for mental treatments since 2010 has rapidly increased. Julie Lynn Evans, a psychotherapist for over 25 years now, is grateful for the additional funding being sent into mental health services, but she believes the dilemma ... continue reading


Stealth fighter jets in U.S. set to get massive upgrades Watch

Image of Pentagon officials have stressed the importance of developing the new long-range strike bomber calling it critical to national security and nuclear deterrence.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A mainstay of United States military defense, stealth bombers have been around since the Seventies. The Air Force's aging fleet is now ready for an expensive makeover. The Pentagon intends to develop a high-priority, super-classified, next-generation bomber. ... continue reading


Will you say 'hello' to Barbie? Mattel's new Barbie doll is 'creeping out' parents, raising concerns of privacy Watch

Image of Hello Barbie will allow its owner to carry on a conversation through recorded audio and WiFi.

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Classic toy doll, Barbie, has been reinvented after the makers, Mattel received numerous requests for a Barbie doll that kids can talk to, according to a spokesperson of the toy company. Mattel's response is WiFi connected "Hello Barbie" that comes with an installed ... continue reading


Scientists find way to eliminate inherited diseases with genetically modified human eggs Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

New gene-editing techniques are being improved and could soon eliminate inherited diseases from future generations by modifying the DNA of human egg cells. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Although the idea of editing chromosomes in human eggs or sperm is feared, ... continue reading


Hidden spy cameras discovered at United States post office, installation confirmed by USPIS Watch

Image of freerepublic.com

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A hidden camera disappeared just after an hour of being discovered at a Denver local post office, Fox31 Denver reported. People became alarmed that they are being watched as they drop-off their mails with the possibility of the camera collecting their facial features ... continue reading


All Technology News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
13 It is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9
2 Children of men, how long will you be heavy of ... Read More

Reading 2, First John 2:1-5
1 My children, I am writing this to prevent you from ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 19th, 2015 Image

St. Alphege
April 19: Archbishop and "the First Martyr of Canterbury." He was born in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter