October 18, 2014 by JImbo
This one was just too good to pass up.
Weekly World News Story
Alright so the REAL story isn’t quiet as outlandish, but it’s still really cool and it does involve a near miss on Mars!
Alright maybe not “dangerously” close, but REALLY REALLY REALLY close by planetary standards. Close enough that just the kinetic energy of it going so close to Mars’s thin atmosphere will be enough to generate a kind of “Northern Lights” effect and possibly an electromagnetic wave that could fry electronics across the surface of the planet.
If there were anyone there.
Well, besides our rovers of course. But NASA says they’ll be safely on the other side of the planet, blocked by its bulk from the full impact of the magnetic field flux.
Still not convinced it’s close?
Let me show you.
This is Earth with Mars for comparison.
No, they’re not anywhere near each other normally. This is just to compare sizes.
Now THIS is how close the Comet (named “Siding Spring”) will come to Mars.
Yes, that’s to scale. In space terms that’s a VERY near miss.
Much closer and it would start to be caught in the planet’s gravity field.
That would be bad.
In the scheme of things 87,000 miles isn’t that far.
We put geosynchronous satellites up about 26,000 miles in orbit around our planet.
Flying that close would DEFINITELY fry our satellites, and probably everything on that side of the planet. That’s even without a direct hit.
Imagine a world without electricity. Instantly. And probably a lot of spontaneous fires that we would have no way to put out without water pumps.
This is another shot showing how close this would be for us. That big circle is our moon at about 240,000 miles away. As you can see that’s a LOT closer than our Moon. At those distances and at those speeds, a few degrees could mean the difference between a miss and a direct hit!
(An asteroid about the size of this one killed the dinosaurs.)
That’s not to mention the SPEED it’s moving at. We all know that force is just mass times speed. So, it’s a combination of the two that combine to give the force of something.
Scientists estimate that the Chicxulub Asteroid was about the same rough size of the one that’s flying by Mars… or about 6 miles across. So, a mountain falling out of the sky.
Well, high speeds are measured in “Mach” or how many times the speed of sound. Anything going over Mach 1 (the speed of sound) gets there before you can hear it.
Fast fighter jets can go Mach 2.
The fastest airplane built the SR-71 Blackbird went Mach 3.2
The Space Shuttle went Mach 26.
This asteroid is moving at Mach 192.
Remember, mass times velocity is how much force it has?
The Chicxulub Asteroid was moving at about 36,000 mph and hit with a force of 100 million megatons. To put that in perspective, a nuclear bomb from 1 to 25 megatons. Every nuclear bomb on Earth is estimated to be about 7,000 megatons.
This one asteroid hit with the force of 100 MILLION megatons. That’s about 100 million nuclear bombs at once.
And that one was slow.
This latest one is moving about 126,000 mph. If THAT one hit us the same way, it’d be like getting hit with 400 million nuclear bombs!
Moving at that speed, you don’t even have to HIT things to mess them up. There’s no real atmosphere in space. It’s called “space” because it’s just empty…well… SPACE after all. It’s mostly a vacuum.
However, even space has a teeny eeny weeny tiny bit of stuff in it. Dust particles and random bits of radiation. The tiniest fragments you’d almost need a microscope to see in most cases.
However, even a speck of dust is dangerous at Mach 192. Again… mass times velocity.
A speck of dust moving at those speeds does damage like a bullet. In fact bullets are slow. They only go about Mach 3. So, something moving over 64 times as fast can do the same damage if it’s 1/64th the size.
That’s why the Chicxulub Asteroid left a crater twice the size of Connecticut.
The “Siding Spring” would make that look like a typical New York pothole.
And make most of New England cease to exist.
Not that there’d be much of any life left on Earth. The last time around 90% of life was killed off by that “small” Chicxulub asteroid. And that’s just the size of the CRATER.
You can just imagine what the size of the earthquake, wind and tidal storms would be like.
This is why I tell people that “Climate Change” is not our biggest threat. Not by a long shot. Even nuclear war isn’t that big of a threat. No, we need to work on a Space Defense System.
Being space, it doesn’t take much. If you detect them far enough off, even nudging one of these beasts a half a degree off will make it go well wide of us in a couple million miles. It’s a matter of detecting them first, and then acting early.
What good is a nice happy little world of solar panels and Kumbayah Communism if the Earth ceases to be habitable?
I just can’t get fired up about a MAYBE few inches or a couple feet over a couple centuries. Even the whole premise of Earth being “too hot” is a misnomer. We’re just NOW coming out of an ICE AGE. This isn’t “normal” in the history of the planet.
Calling this year or this decade or this century’s weather “normal” is like picking a day in Mid-November and saying “THIS IS NORMAL FOR THE WHOLE YEAR!”
Are we warming the planet? Maybe. I tend to think it’s pretty egotistical to think that we are the cause of the Earth’s geological “seasons.” It’s like being worried about our petty “nuclear wars.”
Are we REALLY going to do any damage to the PLANET? The planet has survived a huge asteroid strike (and others maybe bigger in ancient history we can’t even find.) It kept on spinning around the sun.
It’s survived the wiping out of 90% of its species. We are just ONE species. How dare we think that we are somehow “Earth’s Guardian?” That’s like a flea “defending” an elephant.
By all means let’s keep working on Conservation and cleaning our water supplies up. Stop littering on the streets. Stop local pollution.
Just don’t get all holier than thou and claim it’s any sort of “global crisis for the planet.” It’s not even “global inconvenience” at this point, or in the next 100 years… maybe… if that.
Take those TRILLIONS you want to spend on “Carbon Tax” schemes and use them for something useful… like stopping plagues like Ebola… and building an Asteroid Defense System. Things that matter and will make people happier or safer.
This sticking your head in the sand is the true case of “denialism.” It’s not as if we haven’t been hit by an asteroid. They are near misses all the time. In fact, one of those “near misses” happened in 1859 and fried the whole electrical grid. It’s called the Carrington Event.
Thankfully, it was 1859 and the “electrical grid” consisted of a few dozen telegraph machines. Imagine that happening today. A total, permanent blackout of the planet, or at least half of it.
The world would go back into the Dark Ages. With no agricultural revolution methods, subsistence farming would prevail. Our food supply…where there was any… would drop to perhaps 10% of what it supports now.
Before that next harvest though, the population would die off in droves. About 90% of the population would be dead already. Nature has a way of balancing things out
And you’re worried about a degree warmer summers a hundred years from now? Oh, the humanity! How will we ever survive slightly warmer winters in Upstate New York?
Wow, this happy fun nerdy science post took a wickedly dark turn didn’t it?
Here’s some kittens to make up for it
It’s the Curiosity Rover… from Mars.
The topic of this whole post!
One more Science Cat.