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Astronomers Lost an Asteroid NASA Hopes it Doesn’t Smack Us Next Year

asteroid

Astronomers don’t want to worry anybody but they lost an asteroid. There are three expected outcomes, they assure. Space is big, really big, so it will probably miss us. If it doesn’t miss us then it will wipe out most life on Earth. You won’t be bothered by that because you’re dead. There are two possible dates for Lucifer’s Hammer style Armageddon. One of them is next year.

Asteroid lost in space

Just because they lost track of an incoming asteroid is no reason to worry. The odds are seriously in your favor. Things aren’t really as grim for life on Earth as they may seem, astronomers assure.

At the same time, they admit that a big hunk of rock is headed our way and they aren’t real sure where it is now or exactly which trajectory it’s following. They have a few guesses based on what they do know.

There are a lot more threats to humanity than most people want to know. Right now, the experts are tracking “over 32,000 known near-Earth asteroids and more than 120 known short-period near-Earth comets.

Any asteroid could do major damage. “Each has the ability to cause untold havoc on a local level, with yet more capable of releasing enough destructive energy to shut down the whole planet.” That will ruin your day in a nuclear winter sort of way.

NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies has the job of asteroid tracking and they don’t know of any headed anywhere near us for “hundreds of years” to come.

Except for one. Well, they sheepishly acknowledge, there is this one we spotted and lost. In a “worst case” scenario, it “could potentially strike the Earth as soon as October 2024.

asteroid

Spotted in 2007

Fifteen years ago, scientists got a glimpse of “lost” asteroid 2007 FT3, then “lost its flight path.” Nobody has seen a trace of it ever since.

From what they did get a good look at, they crunched the numbers with computer simulations. Deep Thought says you probably don’t need to grab a towel and stick out your thumb.

NASA puts it at a 0.0000096 percent — or 1 in 10 million — chance of striking our planet on March 3, 2030.” That’s one solution to the equations. There “is an altogether more sinister estimate that suggests 2007 FT3 has a probability of 0.0000087 percent, or 1 in 11.5 million chance of striking the Earth on October 5, 2024.

Before you start planning that asteroid Armageddon party, we can put the numbers in perspective.

If you’re the kind of person who plays the Powerball lottery, you know that the odds of hitting all six numbers is 1 in over 292 million. People do win the jackpot, though rarely. However, the odds of hitting 5 numbers without the Powerball for an even million bucks happens to be almost exactly the odds of an asteroid strike next October, 1 in 11,688,053.

That’s still not reason to worry because the odds of Yellowstone erupting by next October and also causing a nuclear winter are only 1 in 730,000, which is a better chance than 4 plus the Powerball for $50,000. The odds on that are 1 in 913,129.

What do you think?

Written by Mark Megahan

Mark Megahan is a resident of Morristown, Arizona and aficionado of the finer things in life.

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