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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Jupiter collision a warning call to Earth |



This detail image shows a large impact shown on the bottom left on Jupiter's south polar region captured on July 20, by NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility in Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
Infrared Telescope Facility/Handout/JPL/NASA/Reuters

Jupiter collision a warning call to Earth

The list of cosmic objects that could hit Earth is growing. Scientists study satellite 'tractors' and nuclear weapons as ways to divert asteroids headed our way.

When an object smacked into Jupiter over the weekend, giving astronomers their best cosmic-collision show since the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 in 1994, the giant gas ball of a planet took the poke like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

For all its scientific interest, however, the collision also serves as a stark reminder that the solar system remains a shooting gallery – with Earth, as well as Jupiter, on the wrong side of the firing line.

The object's signature on Jupiter's cloud tops initially was discovered by Australian amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley as he gathered digital images of the giant planet through his 14.5-inch telescope. After alerting other astronomers to what appeared to be a "scar" in the cloud tops similar to those generated by the pieces of Shoemaker-Levy 9, NASA scientists trained a 3-meter (9.8-foot) infrared telescope on the planet and got a good look at the scar.

"It could be the impact of a comet," according to Glenn Orton, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., in a statement yesterday. "But we don't know for sure yet."

When it comes to objects Earthlings should keep an eye on, the catalog scientists have amassed is swelling.

Since 1995, astronomers associated with 10 search projects have discovered more than 6,200 near-Earth asteroids of all sizes, according to data from JPL. Some 784 are at least a kilometer (0.62 miles) across or larger. Just over 1,000 of the total have been deemed "potentially hazardous" – those that pass Earth at a distance of less than 4.7 million miles.

And while the biggest ones have the potential to inflict the most damage, scientists are gaining a new appreciation of the punch even small ones can deliver.

Two and a half years ago, scientists at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., conducted advanced supercomputer simulations of the June 1908 event over Siberia that flattened and scorched trees over a region 30 miles across. Estimates put the explosive clout of the air burst from either a meteor or comet fragment at between 10 and 20 megatons.

The good news: Calculations on Sandia's supercomputer, in 3-D, push that explosive yield down to between three and five megatons. The bad news: The calculations also indicated that the asteroid or comet fragment was much smaller than previously estimated. There are more small asteroids hurtling around us than large ones.

Sometimes they can seem to come out of nowhere.

Last October, astronomers detected an asteroid an estimated two to five meters across. Some 21 hours later, it entered the atmosphere over northern Sudan sprinkling the Nubian desert with meteorites. The object's blast was estimated at roughly 1,000 tons of TNT.

For asteroid specialists, this was a live-fire test of protocols they'd developed to alert astronomers to monitor the object to refine orbital and impact-location estimates – and to alert national authorities that a direct hit was on the way.

The incident "underscored the successful evolution of the Near-Earth Object Program's discovery and orbit-prediction process," wrote JPL scientists Steve Chesley, Paul Chodas, and Don Yeomans in a post-event report on the incident.

The goal, of course, is to spot these objects and produce highly refined orbit estimates in time to take defensive action, if necessary.

And what might that action look like?

In a lengthy analysis of options that earned him a newly-minted PhD in aeronautical engineering from the University of Glasgow, Joan Pau Sanchez Cuartielles sorts through several approaches ranging from detonating a small nuclear bomb near an asteroid to using a modest-sized satellite as a kind of tractor that tugs the asteroid into a less dangerous orbit, connected to the asteroid by their mutual gravity.

The stand-off nuclear option (with an explosive yield tailored to the mass and density of the asteroid) turned out to be the most effective, although politically troublesome. The gravity tug could be effective with long lead times, or if the goal is to nudge an asteroid just enough to ensure it avoids a gravitational sweet spot, or keyhole, that would put it on a collision course with Earth decades into the future.

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COMMENTS:

2 Comments

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Sunday, August 02, 2009 8:11:00 AM

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Blogger Gadfly said...

Don't know who you are as I can't read your language but thanks for stopping by.

Monday, August 03, 2009 2:17:00 AM

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More Backstabbings of Seniors by Politicians???

I got this in an email. I can't attest to its accuracy. But if it's tru, I'm pissed as hell for all our older citizens.
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

This is an insult and a kick in the butt to all of us...

Get mad and pass it on - I don't know how, but maybe some good

will come of this travesty.

If the immigrant is over 65, they can apply for SSI and Medicaid and get

more than a woman on Social Security, who worked from 1944 until 2004.

She is only getting $791= per month because she was born in 1924 and

there's a 'catch 22'.

It is interesting that the federal government provides a single refugee

with a monthly allowance of $1,890. Each can also obtain an

additional $580 in social assistance, for a total of $2,470 a month.

This compares to a single pensioner, who after contributing to

the growth and development of America for 40 to 50 years, can only

receive a monthly maximum of $1,012 in old age pension and

Guaranteed Income Supplement.

Maybe our pensioners should apply as refugees!

Consider sending this to all your American friends, so we can all be

ticked off and maybe get the refugees cut back to $1,012 and the

pensioners up to $2,470. Then we can enjoy some of the money we were

forced to submit to the Government over the last 40 or 50 or 60 years.

Please forward to every American to expose what our elected politicians

have been doing over the past 11 years - to the over-taxed American.

SEND THIS TO EVERY AMERICAN TAXPAYER YOU KNOW

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Worried Off Blog Again

Worried American will be offline for awhile. Her mother died and she may post on her death when she returns to blogging. The last few weeks have been very hard on her emotionally and physically.

Also she has been struck with a debilitating illness and has been in the hospital the past few days. Her doctors and her children have ordered her to rest. She may post sporadically but will not be blogging regularly for some time. Everyone who loves her is very worried about her health.

Have good thoughts for her.

COMMENTS:
Blogger Kvatch said...

[sniff] Sorry to hear that and our condolences to Worried. The Frogette and I will keep her in our thoughts.

Thursday, July 09, 2009 7:34:00 PM

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Blogger Granny said...

Even when something is not unexpected, it's still hard.

WA, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I hope you will get the rest you've needed and will be feeling better soon.

Much love,

Ann

Thursday, July 09, 2009 8:40:00 PM

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Blogger Progressive Traditionalist said...

Hello, Woried American.
Wishing you a speedy recovery.

Friday, July 10, 2009 3:12:00 PM

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Blogger fjb said...

Take care of yourself Worried. My thoughts and best wishes are with you.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009 10:43:00 PM

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Kids! -- 1



Children's innocent curiosity is amusing to adults.
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"I can aim as good as the soldier."
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"Good shot! I hit the cell phone just right!"
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"Daddy's tire makes a good target."
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."Now watch closely. This is how you do it!"
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"What's she wearing under there?"
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"Why're they all wearing black panties?"
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"She broke hers off! How's she gonna pee?"
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"What's Mommy got behind her skirt?"
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"Holy Crap! She broke hers off too!"
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