From a CNN story
On Monday night, an asteroid that may be the size of a car will likely burn up in the atmosphere over northeastern Africa, according to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. But the planet is not in peril. The asteroid, spotted by an Arizona observatory only Monday afternoon, will burn up in the upper atmosphere at about 10:46 p.m. ET (2:46 a.m. GMT).
…. We want to stress that this object is not a threat,” said Dr. Timothy Spahr, director of the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center. “We’re excited since this is the first time we have issued a prediction that an object will enter Earth’s atmosphere.”
There are a few things I don’t like in this story:
1. I don’t like how many times words such as “likely,” “maybe,” “could” and “may” appear – it gives me the impression they’re just guessing. I understand these kind of predictions aren’t exact but it gives me an uneasy feeling about their abilities to calculate just how innocuous this asteroid will be.
2. I don’t like the fact that an asteroid the size of car was only spotted hours before it was due to make its entry into our atmosphere. Kudos to our Arizona observatory for spotting it but shouldn’t someone have seen it before? Are we keeping an eye out for stray objects? How will we have time to build our huge rocketship so we can leave the planet before the asteroid hits? Dang – I can see the movie in my mind but I can’t remember what it is – its an old one, black and white, possible early fifties, maybe even late forties. Earth is about to be destroyed and they’re building a rocketship – its a classic and has a great looking rocketship but I can’t remember the name of the movie. I’ll update if I remember or some one would be so kind to leave a comment as to what the movie is.
3. Yes. I understand — the planet is not in peril and you’re excited because this will be the FIRST TIME you have issued a prediction that an object will enter the atmosphere. First time!! I wished they hadn’t mentioned that.
Anyway, I’d like a little bit more watching the skies for large objects hurtling at us and less playing around with particle colliders from you scientist types out there.