By Bookmarked and Kate Lunau - Friday, February 8, 2013 - 0 Comments
Sixty-five million years ago, a 10-km-wide asteroid slammed into Earth, killing off the dinosaurs. While that’s the best-known Earth-asteroid collision, the truth is, space debris rains down on us all the time, notes Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office. He and other scientists are on a mission to track the largest asteroids that swarm around our planet, and his book is a behind-the-scenes look at how they do it—hopefully finding them before they find us.
The first asteroid, named Ceres, was discovered in 1801, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that astronomers understood just how many there were. Our planet passes through a veritable “shooting gallery” of millions of comets and asteroids on its tour around the sun, Yeomans writes. Long viewed as “the vermin of the skies,” we now understand how useful they can be. Asteroids and comets, “the leftover bits and pieces” of our solar system, can tell us a lot about how the planets formed. Asteroids can also be rich in valuable resources like platinum, which explains why mining companies are eyeing them as future destinations; maybe soon, we could send astronauts to visit one. (In 2010, President Obama said he’d like to have astronauts reach a near-Earth asteroid by 2025.)
Yeomans credits near-Earth objects with the origins of life. “The Earth formed hot without significant supplies of water and organic materials,” he writes, but after a pummelling from space, “received a veneer of water and organic carbon-based materials that allowed life to form.” If they gave life to our planet, they could also take it away. Yeomans’ book is a fascinating account of science that could literally save the world.
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By macleans.ca - Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at 12:02 PM - 3 Comments
Truck-sized space rock sails harmlessly above the Atlantic
An asteroid the size of a garbage truck sailed between the moon and Earth on Monday, passing harmlessly 12,000 kilometres over the Atlantic Ocean, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The asteroid passed along the same trajectory predicted by scientists. According to the JPL, such an event occurs about once every six years. Even if the space rock, which measured between 5 and 20 metres in diameter, had entered the Earth’s atmosphere, a JPL spokesman said it would have likely burnt up and caused no damage.
By Scott Feschuk - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
Already the UN is think-tanking a proposal to facilitate naming a Special Envoy
Look up, waaaaay up. See anything suspicious? Canadian and American astronauts have warned that our planet is a sitting duck for massive asteroids—one of which may ultimately smash into Earth, dooming billions to death and prompting thousands to turn to their god and plaintively inquire: “Why? Why couldn’t this have happened in 1983 when I still had six LPs left on my Columbia House obligation?”
The warning comes from an organization headed by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. It’s called the Association of Space Explorers, which surely ranks among the most badass and awesome-sounding of private clubs out there—although members do have to put up with Buzz Aldrin ending every argument with younger astronauts by hollering: “How did your moon walk go? Oh, right, you never walked on the moon like I walked on the moon! [pause] Moon!”
By Scott Feschuk - Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 8:20 AM - 1 Comment
As it spreads, the flu strain is constantly changing shape and mutating, like a microscopic version of Joan Rivers’s face
Regular readers value this column as a source of important information, such as how humanity may perish in a killer robot apocalypse. But this space is also useful for those with other interests, such as how humanity may perish in other kinds of apocalypses.
Welcome to another instalment of . . . What’s Potentially Annihilating Us Now?