Orbit diagram of near Earth object 2007 TU24. Nasa JPL, original here.
Mark your calendars. On January 29th, 2008, the near Earth object (NEO) 2007 TU24 will pay us a visit. Thankfully, it’s just passing by and not stopping. It will zip by at 0.0038 Astronomical Units from our planet, which is about 1.4 lunar distances. That’s 568,472 kilometers, or 353,232 miles. In astronomical terms, that’s the other cowboy grazing your head with a bullet.
I’ve written more extensively about Near Earth Objects a few months ago. Since then, the distributed computing project Orbit@home which wants to monitor asteroids has been funded by Nasa. The latest news is that active development of the project will start in March 2008. Can’t wait to let my CPUs loose on that one. In the meantime, here are other worthy projects that I encourage you to check out.
So what if we detect a rock and do the math, find out that it has us in the cross hair. What then? Well, there are many theories on how to deflect inbound space rock. But theories are not enough. We need to make this happen sooner rather than later, because as 2007 TU24 reminds us, we can’t beat the odds forever.
Update: 2007 TU24 is “estimated at between 150 and 600 meters in diameter — about 500 feet to 1,900 feet, or the size of a football field, at 360 feet, to the size of Chicago’s 110-story Sears Tower, at 1,454 feet”.