Asteroid 2015 SZ2 Close Encounter with Earth Sept. 30, 2015
The space rock 2015 SZ2 is one of six “near-Earth” flybys due on Wednesday, but while most will pass by several million miles away, it is estimated to be on an orbit of just 309,000 miles – only 1.3 times the distrance from Earth to the Moon (238,000 miles).
Significant asteroids pass Earth every week, and Nasa monitors them at up to 12 million miles away, so this is considered a cosmic close shave.
A rock of 50 metres could destroy all of London out to the M25 boundary, and a space rock of 100metres long or more could devastate a continent, causing mass destruction and tsunamis.
But the US space agency insists it, and all the others WILL pass by safey – for the next few hundred years at least.
The cosmic skim comes straight after wild predictions were made online that a huge space rock would strike Puerto Rico by the end of this month.
Fears became so widespread a rock may be about to strike that Nasa took the unusual move of issuing a statement ruling this out.
The most unsettling pass was a monster 270-metre space rock called 2012 TT5 – one of six “near-earth” flybys between September 22 and 28 when online doomsday prophets claimed the world could end.
Nasa gave a running comet on Twitter as it safely passed us yesterday.Its Asteroid Watch Twitter account tweeted: “As was previously known & expected, asteroid 2012 TT5 safely passed Earth at (9:40 am BST) by 5 million miles.”
This morning it added: “There are no current threats.”
Doommongers had predicted the “end of days” due to a range of Bible codes, so-called prophecies, and alleged other predictions.
NASA gives each asteroid a “condition code” from zero to nine of how certain it is about its predicted orbital path.
A zero means there is “good certainty” about it, while nine means it is highly uncertain, with numbers in between on a sliding scale.
The cruise-ship-sized rock 2012 TT5 scored six, meaning there was quite high uncertainty about its position, but it appears to have been spot on in the end.
The Blood Moon Prophecy, says the end is nigh on September 28 as that coincides with the last of four ‘blood moons’ (total eclipses followed with six full moons in between) over the past 18 months.
Paul Chodas, of Nasa’s Near-Earth Object office at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, said: “There is no existing evidence that an asteroid or any other celestial object is on a trajectory that will impact Earth.”In fact, not a single one of the known objects has any credible chance of hitting our planet over the next century.”Nasa has also published a statement on its website reassuring the global public the scare stories are not true.Mr Chodas added: “There is no scientific basis, not one shred of evidence, that an asteroid or any other celestial object will impact Earth on those dates.”If there were any object large enough to do that type of destruction in September, we would have seen something of it by now.”Nasa DOES tracks about 13,000 “near-Earth asteroids” but accepts this figure is only about 2% of those out there and it has no idea of the whereabouts to the remaining 98% of them.Of the 13,000 around 1,607 are classified as “potentially hazardous” meaning they are big enough and come within a few million miles of Earth – a distance considered a brush past in cosmic terms.
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The claim appears to have its origins in a self-proclaimed prophet Rev Efraid Rodriguez, who says he wrote to Nasa warning of the strike after receiving a message from God.
He claims he saw a vision of it “entering the airspace of the town of Arecibo in Puerto Rico, striking the sea between the island of Mona and Mayagüez and triggering a magnitude 12 earthquake.
Many “end of world” prophecies have clearly been made before and passed without incident.
Still, the latest online doomsday prophecies have been read by so many people that NASA was forced to issue a statement, reiterated this week, saying the chances of an impact around that time or within the next few hundred years were next to zero.
So which asteroids were due to pass close to us between September 22 and 28 and what were the chances of them posing any danger?
There were SIX so-called “close approaches” of “near Earth” asteroids due to pass within a cosmic fraction of the planet within the doommongers’ seven-day predicted timescale – but four of them have passed safely since Tuesday.
Scientists predict it would take an impact from an asteroid of 1km (0.6miles) in length and upwards to actually kill off most life on the planet.
How big are these six?
Of the six , those yesterday and due on Sunday, September 27 and Monday, are estimated as being up to 57, 39, and 31-metres-long respectively.
In June 1908 the Tunguska asteroid exploded in the atmosphere above Siberia and is the most recent major one in world history.
It saw a 50-metre lump of extraterrestrial rock rain down, flattening around 80million trees, sending a shock wave across Russia measuring five on the Richter scale.
We found the biggest rocks set to pass were Tuesday and yesterday, September 24.
In fact, on Tuesday, two asteroids whistled past – one of up to 190 metres long – the length of eight train carriages – and another cruise ship-sized space rock of about 280 metres long.
Yesterday, the whopping 270metre cruise ship asteroid passed at 5million miles.
How far away are they?
NASA monitors massive asteroids that pass by several million miles from Earth and smaller ones at up to about 7m miles.
It seems far, but put into context the moon is 238,800 miles from us and our closes planet is Venus at 25m miles away, so the “near Earth asteroids” pass closer to the moon than other planets, and their orbits vary.
The furthest pass of the largest three was Tuesday, when the 280-metre asteroid flew by at a relatively safe 14.7million miles from us.