THE SPACE EDUCATORS' HANDBOOK
Click here for larger picture of ASTEROID science fiction movie
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In March of 1998, newspapers reported the potential collision of Earth with a mile-wide
asteroid in the year 2028. Quickly, Earth's astronomers evaluated the reported claims.
Using calculations from astronomical pictures, they demonstrated the passing of the
asteroid will be at approximately 600,000 miles from Earth. Collisions of Earth with
comets, asteroids, and large meteoroids have long been a fertile source of science
fiction drama. Indeed, such an encounter would cause devastating damage to our planet.
However, the Earth's spacefaring nations have the abililty to rocket disintegrating
missiles into such bodies hurling toward Earth. This is comforting for those
of us who call Earth home. The following news release shortly followed the report
of the predicted asteroid collision of the year 2028:
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MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEMarch 12, 1998
ASTEROID WILL MISS EARTH BY "COMFORTABLE DISTANCE" IN 2028
Asteroid 1997 XF11 will pass well beyond the Moon's distance
from Earth in October 2028 with a zero probability of impacting
the planet, according to astronomers at NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, CA.
The asteroid "is predicted to pass at a rather comforable
distance of about 600,000 miles (about 960,000 kilometers) in
2028," reported Dr. Donald K. Yeomans and Dr. Paul W. Chodas, JPL
scientists who specialize in computing the predicted orbits of
comets, asteroids, planets and other bodies in the solar system.
Data on the asteroid from March 1990 (well before its
discovery in December 1997) was integrated into the orbit
calculations by Yeomans and Chodas to arrive at the distance the
asteroid will pass Earth. The 1990 observations of the object
were found today in the Palomar Planet Crossing Asteroid Survey
conducted at Caltech's Palomar Observatory, by JPL's Eleanor
Helin and Ken Lawrence and by Brian Roman, formerly of JPL.
Even prior to the discovery of the earlier Palomar
observations, however, Yeomans and Chodas had determined that the
impact probability would be zero. The new calculations further
underscore that conclusion, they said.
JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology.
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