The end of the world is nigh: 2 June 2011

This is a photograph of the control room in th...
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Actually, its unlikely, at least in the short term.

I discovered today that the Jet Propulsion Library run an easy to use website on objects that come close to Earth – and then went on to discover that it was predicting an object, travelling at 2000 metres per second relative to the Earth was due to come inside the Moon’s orbit on 2 June.

A quick, back of the envelope, calculation led me to conclude this thing could smash into us with the force of 55 kiloton airbust (later I saw that NASA estimate it’s more like 8 kT) – so even if they have got the calculation wrong it is unlikely to result in the end of humanity unless some idiot launches-on-warning. (Though it would not be nice if it came down over a city as opposed to an ocean).

But what really interested me is that surely we should be describing 2009 BD not as an asteroid but as a satellite of Earth? It orbits the earth with a period of one year as the java applet on the JPL website clearly shows.

I wonder how long it has been there?


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