I’m beginning to think that, with enough headlines like this, fear of tobacco smoke and sugar and salt and carbon dioxide will one day be surpassed or replaced by fear of asteroids. People will watch the skies, and live in dread of fireballs in the night. Daily Express:
Shock as NASA confirms asteroid TWO MILES wide will pass close to Earth TOMORROW
A HUGE asteroid measuring almost two miles across will skim past Earth tomorrow, Nasa has confirmed.
By NATHAN RAO
PUBLISHED: 03:44, Fri, Oct 9, 2015 | UPDATED: 13:35, Fri, Oct 9, 2015
It should fly safely past earth, but astronomers are keeping a close eye on 86666 (2000 FL10) which, according to NASA, will be one of the biggest to pass close to our planet in recent times.
The giant lump of rock is currently hurtling through space at 40,000 miles an hour. The asteroid’s exact size is still unclear though it is estimated to be between 0.7miles metres and 1.6 miles wide – more than 15 times bigger than other asteroids currently on Nasa’s radar.
A collision would be nothing short of catastrophic with the rock fragment thought to be around a quarter of the size of Mount Everest.
I got hold of (2000 FL10)’s location and velocity from NASA Horizons, and plugged them into my orbital simulation model. Here’s what I found, looking down on the solar system:
(2000 FL10) is indeed in our vicinity in the solar system, but the nearest it gets is tomorrow, over 25 million km away. The Sun is about 150 million km from the Earth.
But not everybody has an orbital simulation model. And there seem to be more and more stories of impending asteroid impacts floating around on the internet. There was one that predicted an Earth impact on about 24 September this year, in the Caribbean, that would create a tsunami. NASA issued denial after denial, but the story wouldn’t go away.
And why should it have, given stories like the above, with huge asteroids “skimming” the Earth on an almost weekly basis?
I can imagine a few people might wish to cash in on the growing fear (which didn’t exist 20 or 30 years ago, when people weren’t so gullible), and start rumours of an enormous asteroid impact at some specific place on some specific date and time in 5 or 10 years time. NASA will deny it vociferously, but the story won’t go away. And people will start selling houses and businesses, and move out of the area. Property prices will collapse. And then, just before the predicted impact date, a lot of property will be bought at knock-down prices by the instigators of the panic – who will already be working on their next scam.
Back when I first saw this movie, after the uneventful first six minutes, I was on the edge of my seat for all the rest of it.
Still find it darn scary even today.