Russia reports amazing meteorite strike

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by jmc247, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Hadn't heard about Daniel Tosh's little program. I'll have to check it out. On my own I've watched a number of videos from Australia and Russia of road encounters with maniacs. A common theme is the baseball bat in the trunk. That's really scary. One good whack on the head and you're dead. I wonder how many people die from this kind of altercation. It does make our driving environment in large US cities look a bit tame in comparison. But in the case of speeding, it seems about equal. We have some seriously reckless and fearless people in this country, eager to enjoy flinging their vehicles at high speed, death to others be damned.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Of course we can. We can calculate the gravitational influence of any known body; it's just math. If it weren't possible to do that, we'd never have been able to send space probes on courses so precisely calculated that they could reach an exact rendezvous point years after launch and astronomical units away from Earth. That's precision tantamount to threading the eye of a needle from a continent away.

    The only uncertainties come from unknown objects whose gravity could influence its course, but we've identified most of the large near-Earth asteroids by now, so there's not that much we don't know about objects that might affect 2012 DA14's orbit -- which is why the margin of error is on the order of one in five million. And of course it's not like we're going to forget it's there. Assuming civilization doesn't fall from some other cause in the interim, we're naturally going to keep tracking it, so if something does change its course, we'll know about it.



    Yes, they can, within an accuracy of plus or minus about 20,000 kilometers. Heck, NASA's already done calculations for not just the next pass, but the next 25 passes going up to 2137, and you can see for yourself how detailed the calculations are. This is the only pass prior to 2087 when it has any prospect of coming closer to Earth than a hundredth of an AU (1.5 million kilometers).


    That's not a meaningful comparison. Precision is a matter of scale. Sure, we can't estimate its trajectory down to the meter and know if it'll hit a satellite or not, but the Earth is over 12,000 kilometers in diameter, so thousand-kilometer precision is more than enough to be sure it won't hit the planet.

    Besides, if you look at the table above, there is no point in the next century where Earth's position will even be within the margin of error in the calculations, even the ones with the largest uncertainty. Yes, there is always a margin of error in orbital calculations, a cone of possible paths an object might take from its current observed position. But it doesn't matter how wide that cone is if it never intersects Earth's path. This is why you so often hear reports that some asteroid might potentially hit Earth get quickly followed up with, "no, it won't hit after all." It's because initially the margin of error in the object's course is wide enough that the Earth's position at the point of intersection is within the cone of probabilities; but as further observation refines our estimate of the object's course, the cone narrows and no longer overlaps Earth's position. As long as the cone doesn't intersect Earth, it doesn't matter how precise it is beyond that; whether it's got a 1-kilometer or a 100,000-kilometer margin of error is irrelevant if the minimum possible distance it would pass by Earth is 500,000 kilometers. Either way, the probability of an impact is zero.


    As you can see from the link, as long as we're aware of an object, we can have over a century of advance warning. We do track these things. They don't disappear and get forgotten. Once we find them, we know where they are, we can compute where they're going, and we keep them under observation. The only objects you need to worry about getting caught off guard by are the ones we haven't discovered yet, like the one that blew up over Russia. And hopefully that event will prompt governments to improve funding for skywatch programs so we can find the rest of the significant objects out there and track them too.

    EDIT: Here's an article with more information about the Russian event and the effort to identify and track near-Earth objects, as well as an explanation of what caused the explosion.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2013
  3. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored The Norf Remembers Moderator

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    Pffff. No need for that poser. Putin was on the case.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    I wouldn't say that. The vast majority of our solar system is vaccuum...

    WHICH WE CAN'T EVEN BREATHE!!!1!!1!one!!1!1
     
  5. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    'Scuse me?
     
  6. EmoBorg

    EmoBorg Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    You can only deal with what you see coming. Objects like this are small and dark, and we're a long way from having located and identified all of them. We've only found 90% of the near-Earth objects large enough to pose a planetary threat; for smaller objects like this, we've barely begun to identify them, since the threat level is lower. (Keep in mind that this is the only time in recorded history that a bolide has exploded this close to a city, or that a meteoroid event has injured a large number of people. This has never, ever happened before, so it's very unlikely that it will happen again in our lifetimes.)

    And our ability to intercept and deflect asteroids and meteoroids before impact is currently nonexistent. Deflecting missiles is one thing -- something that's never actually been tested in combat so we don't even know how effective it would be, and hopefully never will -- but we're talking about objects that are immensely faster and more massive than any human-made missile. You might as well ask why the US Coast Guard couldn't fight off Superstorm Sandy. For all our vaunted technology, we're still a long way from being able to match the power nature has to throw at us.
     
  8. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Great, NOW you've jinxed it. Que incoming multiple bolides.;)
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Actually there are thousands of them every day, mostly small ones, getting exponentially less frequent with increasing size. And they mostly happen over uninhabited areas. Surprising though it may be, humans inhabit less than one percent of the total surface area of the Earth, counting both land and water. Which is why it's so unlikely for anything like this to happen over a city.
     
  10. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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  11. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    My mom has long told of a meteor that passed over in the evening when she was a little kid in the early '50s. She said it lit the night like day for a second or two and made a noise that shook the windows (and my grandmother corroborates). I could never really picture it before, but now it does make sense.
     
  12. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, I know this. I was making a joke about your comment that this (being an incident that causes thousands of injuries) will likely never happen again in our lifetime.
     
  13. YellowSubmarine

    YellowSubmarine Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It seems this is one of the reasons:

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=c12_1349902324

    It's as fascinating and as disturbing as the meteorite. Natural phenomena, meet homo sapiens.
     
  14. bigdaddy

    bigdaddy Vice Admiral Admiral

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    OH MY GOD!!! THE SMOG IN CALI DIDN'T BLOCK OUT A SHOOTING STAR!!! WE ARE DOOMED!!!

    Honestly the American media (I refuse to call it news) is making a big deal over a shooting star. It's a fucking shooting star, I saw at least one a night when I lived on an island with clear skies.

    "What if it blew up over a city!?!" Bad things, the chances of something hitting the Earth "soon" is small, then the chances it hits land, small, and the chance it hits a major city is tiny.
     
  15. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    It's a "shooting star" that was big and dramatic in the daytime, whose shock wave shattered windows and hurt people. That's news.

    ETA: Having no link to the contrary, I thought bigdaddy was referring to the thread topic, so that's what I was talking about. The Bay Area fireball didn't make my local news, although dramatic falling stars in my area have my local broadcasts before.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  16. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    What should be news is how unprepared we are if a big rock heads this way. :eek:
     
  17. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    I don't think we're making a big deal about the rock itself. We're making a big deal about the fact that this one was big enough and close enough to the ground when it exploded that it caused a lot of damage.

    It's no different than if we made a big deal about tornado destroying a city. Sure, there are lots of tornadoes every year, but not all of them do major damage. The ones that do become newsworthy because of their effect on us.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think bigdaddy is referring to the fireball over the San Francisco Bay Area last night, given the references to "Cali" (California) and the American media. That one was a rather commonplace event, but it's getting more attention than most because it happened so soon after the Russian fireball.
     
  19. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    Ah, well, I apparently pay even less attention to the American media because I didn't even know that happened. :p
     
  20. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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