Things are finally freezing here in Boston, making me feel at home again.
I hope you are all enjoying a big time with your friends and family, and the spirit of good will, blah blah blah....Santa was veddy veddy good to me this year. Plenty of Red Sox schwag to carry home, plus I got a mini-Foreman grill so I can KNOCK THE FAT RIGHT OUT!!
Okay, Holiday celebrating is over, back to reality.
The latest big space rock that might destroy humanity comes courtesy of J.D. over at Evolution v4.0 and NASA's JPL NEO program...
Asteroid (2004 MN4)
Near-Earth Asteroid 2004 MN4 Reaches Highest Score To Date On Hazard Scale
Don Yeomans, Steve Chesley and Paul Chodas
NASA's Near Earth Object Program Office
December 23, 2004
A recently rediscovered 400-meter Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) is predicted to pass near the Earth on 13 April 2029. The flyby distance is uncertain and an Earth impact cannot yet be ruled out. The odds of impact, presently around 1 in 300, are unusual enough to merit special monitoring by astronomers, but should not be of public concern. These odds are likely to change on a day-to-day basis as new data are received. In all likelihood, the possibility of impact will eventually be eliminated as the asteroid continues to be tracked by astronomers around the world.....The brightness of 2004 MN4 suggests that its diameter is roughly 400 meters (1300 feet) and our current, but very uncertain, best estimate of the flyby distance in 2029 is about twice the distance of the moon, or about 780,000 km (480,000 miles). On average, an asteroid of this size would be expected to pass within 2 lunar distances of Earth every 5 years or so.
Usually, predictions of impacts decrease once more orbit data is calculated from other independent astronomers. Well, 2004 MN4 has not been dowgraded quite yet. In fact, it's doing the opposite.
December 24 Update: 2004 MN4 is now being tracked very carefully by many astronmers around the world, and we continue to update our risk analysis for this object. Today's impact monitoring results indicate that the impact probability for April 13, 2029 has risen to about 1.6%, which for an object of this size corresponds to a rating of 4 on the ten-point Torino Scale. Nevertheless, the odds against impact are still high, about 60 to 1, meaning that there is a better than 98% chance that new data in the coming days, weeks, and months will rule out any possibility of impact in 2029.
For those unfamiliar here is the Torino Scale, and keep in mind no tracked object has ever reached beyond a one on the Torino scale, and we are already at four with this one.
The Deep Impact Mission doesn't get off the ground for another two weeks, but the NEO problem looks like it might get some front page news without it. This is a good thing. Now let's hope they re-adjust the Torino scale readings of 2004MN4, or start planning your last 25 years on the planet....A 1300 foot long asteroid hitting the planet (at around mach 15-20 no less) will cause planet-wide devastation. Perhaps not a planet killer, this impact would surely alter if not interrupt life as we know it. And it will cause unprecedented damage to our modern world.
Bruce Willis can not save us from this folks, no matter what Hollywood tells you.
MORE FUNDING FOR NASA'S NEO PROBLEM RIGHT FREAKING NOW. NO MORE OTHER PROJECTS UNTIL WE MAKE SUBSTANTIAL PROGRESS IN MITIGATION AND DEFLECTION OF NEO'S.
And may all your Christmases, be briiiiiggghhttt.......