Astronomers at the University of Hawaii issued a statement on October 26, 2020, revealing critical new findings linked to the large near-Earth asteroid 99942 Apophis, which is expected to pass close to Earth in 2029, 2036 and again in 2068. Dave Tholen and collaborators announced they have now detected a Yarkovsky acceleration on asteroid Apophis, arising from a minuscule push imparted by sunlight. This force is particularly important for asteroid Apophis, the scientists in Hawaii said, because it relates to the possibility of an Earth impact in 2068.
Tholen and colleagues used the 323-inch (8.2-meter) Subaru Telescope at Mauna Kea, Hawaii, to make the new observations. Their work suggests that the huge space rock – whose estimated diameter is between 1,115 and 1,214 feet (340 to 370 meters) – is drifting more than 500 feet (about 170 meters) per year from its expected position in its orbit.
Sixty Six million years ago a 14-kilometer long, Mount-Everest sized asteroid blasted a hole in the ground, when at the moment of impact, “the top of it might have still towered more than a mile above the cruising altitude of a 747,” writes Peter Brannen in Ends of the World. “In its nearly instantaneous descent, it compressed the air below it so violently that it briefly became several times hotter than the surface of the sun, hitting Earth with enough force enough to lift a mountain back into space at escape velocity, releasing the equivalent of 100 million megatons of TNT creating a 20-mile deep, 110-mile hole and sterilizing the remaining 170 million square miles of the ancient continent of Pangaea, killing virtually every species on Earth and, oddly, paving the way for the emergence of the human species.”
Magnified Preview of a Coming Attraction?
“It would have felt like the ground beneath your feet had become a ship in the middle of the ocean,” says earth and space science professor Mark Richards at the University of Washington. “Then rocks would have bombarded you from a boiling sky that was beginning to take on a hazy glow. It would have seemed like the end of the world.”
An asteroid with a diameter the size of a refrigerator could strike the Earth the day before the November election, according to celebrity scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson — but it’s not large enough to do any serious damage.
The famed astrophysicist said the space rock, known as 2018VP1, is hurtling towards Earth at a speed of 25,000 miles per hour and may clip the planet on Nov. 2.
Darmstadt, 15 September 2020. – The European Space Agency (ESA) awarded a €129.4 million contract covering the design, manufacturing and testing of Hera, the space agency’s first mission for planetary defence, ESA announced today.
The contract was signed by Franco Ongaro, ESA Director of Technology, Engineering and Quality, and Marco Fuchs, CEO of Germany space company OHB, prime contractor of the Hera consortium, ESA said today. The signing took place at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, which will serve as mission control for the 2024-launched Hera.
The mission will be Europe’s contribution to an international asteroid deflection effort, set to perform sustained exploration of a double asteroid system, ESA said.
Hera will be, along with NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART) spacecraft, humankind’s first probe to rendezvous with a binary asteroid system, a little understood class making up around 15% of all known asteroids, the agency said.
Hera is the European contribution to an international planetary defence collaboration among European and US scientists called the Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (AIDA).