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January 30, 2011

Asteroid Deflection: What If a Huge Asteroid Was Going to Slam Into Earth?

This article discussed the possibility of a 25 million-ton chunk of rock slamming into the Earth in the future. It provided a quote from NASA stating that, "A collision with an object of this size traveling at an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 miles per hour would be catasrophic." The article then went on to suggest ways to prevent such an encounter from happening such as by either altering the path of the object or finding some way to destroy the object. Dr. Matloff is one of the leading researchers on the case and said that the best way to prevent the collision of Earth with a foreign object would be to divert the object's path. The asteroid that is thought to make a close pass with Earth in 2029 and 2036 is Apophis. However, Dr. Matloff stated that an impact with Apophis is very unlikely, so there is no need to worry about its impact.

The full article can be found at:

Posted by rmousigi at January 30, 2011 12:49 AM


It reminds me of what we learned in class. I find it very unlikely that such an asteroid will hit Earth. After all, it will hit very far into the future and as it passes other objects in space its path will be thrown off a little bit again and again as it comes into contact with other gravitational fields.

Posted by: brdoss at January 30, 2011 01:34 PM

Yeah, I agree with you. The fact that the Earth hasn't been hit by any asteroid makes me feel that it won't happen.

Posted by: jinjoung at January 30, 2011 07:22 PM

Although it is extremely unlikely, if such event was predicted to occur, I am confident that our knowledge of astronomy would allow for some sort of prevention tactic that scientists could create to prevent this type of disaster.

Posted by: sekoch at January 30, 2011 10:12 PM

Well if you read the rest of the article you can already see the impressive and extensive measures that they are taking to prevent this asteroid from hitting, or even passing closely by, the Earth. I am amazed at how precise the procedure must be in order to successfully alter the solar orbit of the asteroid.

Posted by: ccastel at January 31, 2011 12:47 AM

I wonder how much mass the atmosphere could shave off the atmosphere, and I can only imagine that global warming is weakening our defenses against things like asteroids.

Posted by: emmatula at January 31, 2011 02:36 PM

Wow, that Solar Collector idea is interesting and is quite precise, but how would something like that hold up out in space with the minute space dust moving around? One-tenth the thickness of a human hair is REALLY thin, and that seems too flimsy if it does come into contact with any debris. On the other hand, it leaves me pretty awe-struck by the capability of space, and how thin things like that may be ideal in the correct settings (like space's vacuum), but fail miserablely in others' (earth's surface).

Posted by: ddeemidd at January 31, 2011 10:43 PM

brdoss: actually, the Earth has been hit by LOTS of asteroids. But the rate is very small. We will probably talk about a few of those recent collisions in class (including the one that wiped out the dinosaurs).

So while it doesn't happen often, it DOES happen. And when it does, bad things can happen if the asteroid is big enough.

Posted by: christoq at February 21, 2011 11:49 AM

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