Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Yet another asteroid story: But this one is a little bit more disturbing. Asteroid 2002 NT7 is on a collision course with Earth, with impact expected on February 1, 2019. This is the first asteroid to have a positive (i.e., more dangerous) rating on the Palermo Impact Hazard Scale. The uncertainty factor is still fairly large, but scientists regard it as "the most threatening object in the short history of asteroid detection". If it actually does strike, the impact would be "enough to wipe out a continent and cause global climate changes". Fortunately, most astronomers expect that additional observations will show that the asteroid will probably miss us. If you can't wait until year 2019 for some excitement, Asteroid 2002 NY40 will be passing close enough to the Earth to be visible with binoculars on August 18, 2002.