Asteroid 2009 DD45

I don’t know about you but this story worries me, slightly.

There’s this lump of rock in space called 2009 DD45. It is perhaps 30-40m wide and it just went whizzing past the earth. Nothing exciting there, except it came pretty close by asteroid standards, 72,000 km away, which is only twice the altitude of satellites in geosynchronous orbit and well within the moon’s orbit!

Rumour has it that this thing is roughly the same size as the rock that flattened 80 million trees over an area of 2,000 square km (800 square miles) near the Tunguska river in Siberia in 1908. It has the explosive power equivalent to about 10 to 15 megatonnes of TNT, about 1,000 times more powerful than the blast from the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

That makes it a little more worrying. What worries me the most though is that the first we knew about this rock was a report on Saturday by the Siding Spring Survey, a near-Earth object search programme in Australia.

Now, assuming there are people positioned all over the earth watching for these things, we’ve left no ‘blind spots’, I’m concerned that the best we can expect in terms of notice is about 3 days. That’s nowhere near enough time to run around like headless chickens, invent asteroid blasting weapons, build a spacecraft to carry them and then get Bruce Willis and Co into space in time to deflect the thing!! Holy rock splat, Batman! We’re doomed!

I always had this romantic notion that in the rare event we did come under this threat we’d have enough notice to react. It appears not. Nor do we have any form of defence whatsoever.

I wonder which cities will be flattened before we do something about this? Or are we just hoping the next one also flattens some trees, burns some desert or makes a very big splash?

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10 thoughts on “Asteroid 2009 DD45

  1. I once read of an asteroid knocking around us which could potentially knock us off our axis. Whilst I can see a huge advantage if we were to settle into a 35 hour day it is all bit scary if you lose perspective. There are lots more likely nasties out there that could ruin the earth (like banks and governments!)

  2. read this Scatts,

    h ttp://bnp.org.uk/2009/03/bnp-loves-europe-hates-the-eu-says-nick-griffin-in-tribute-to-polish-spitfire-pilots/

  3. I heard possibly in future technology we will go up in space and blast them out of our way…just watch out for possible fall out. (where a helmet) :D

  4. *puts on serious space boffin hat*

    Near Earth Objects of this kind are one of the top three medium-term threats to human survival. I mean, things like this could very effectively reduce us all to dust or, at best, third-world refugees. Economic ups and downs are a drop in the ocean compared to the kind of damage a gigatonne of rock traveling at interplanetary velocities could cause. A big one would wipe us out entirely, and there’s more or less nothing we could do about it at this time, even if we did see it coming.

    The human species has lived a charmed life so far. It’s a statistical certainty that a big rock will hit us again one day, as they have hit our planet many times in the past, and when it does no amount of iPods or treehugging will save us. The only hope for the medium to long term survival of our species is the establishment of an effective presence in the volume of space that surrounds us.

    The idea that ‘space’ is some remote, useless place that has no value is a common but completely erroneous idea. It’s similar to living on a tiny Pacific island and assuming that nothing bad can happen to you there and that there’s nothing over the horizon worth exploiting.

    *takes off serious space boffin hat*

  5. Kate tells me that Venus was once hit and that is why it turns anticoockwise. Wonder if we’d get younger not older if it happened to us?

  6. Chris,

    it’s very hard to sing your notes from the Polandian’s congratulation song, especially these with hearts or butterfly (I haven’t decided yet, what it’s really!). :D
    When I was in first elementary class (7 y.o.) we had got a lecture “In 2000”. There were pics. showing children with a little windmill or propeller in the back of the pack and that showed future “they will be in 2000 flying to school”. I was looking forward to fly in 2000 (doesn’t matter as an adult). 2000 passed and there are still no packs with windmills and flying kids!

  7. What to worry Scatts? Come back to the stars we came from isn’t it the wonderful perspective? Death is for people too.

  8. MG…first you must drink lots of piwo or wodka and then the rest will come very easy to sing :D

    On the space pak/back pak… I seem to have read the same thing when I was little in school. They do have something to that affect now but I think it is still in the experimental stages in armed forces. Maybe that is why I had these reoccuring dreams of flying by just deciding to soar when I wished. Then to fly to Poland at whim :D

  9. Chris,

    I hadn’t any idea we were schoolmate! :D

    One of my best dreams was also about levitation. Just think, what a spare of money for f.e. Manolo Blahnik! :D

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