After further study, astronomers have decided that asteroidNT7 will not hit the Earth 17 years from now, but will flyharmlessly by instead. Dr. Don Yeomans of NASA says, "We cannow rule out any impact possibilities for February 1st,2019."
But although it won't hit us 17 years from now, it may stillhit the Earth in 58 years. Yeomans says, "While we cannotcompletely rule out an impact possibility for February 1st,2060, it seems very likely that this possibility will soonbe ruled out as well."
Astronomers are having a hard time figuring out NT7?s futuremovements because they can?t find any past observations ofit that could be used to predict where it will be in thefuture. This is because the asteroid has an unusual orbitthat takes it into parts of space that are seldom surveyed.
Dr. Benny Peiser, of Liverpool John Moores University in theU.K., says, ?It would be prudent to caution interestedobservers that further observations in the near future couldresult in new impact dates.?
Mark Bailey, of the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland,says, ?[NT7] orbits roughly every 2.2 years, so there wouldbe several opportunities to rendezvous with it,? Baileysays. ?There?d be opportunity to assess what it?s made of,find out whether it?s made of rock and ice, or iron, whetherit?s a rubble pile or a solid body. It would make sense toput a beacon on it so that you?d then have a very preciseknowledge of its orbit.?
In the past, astronomers have speculated that the easiestthing to do with a menacing asteroid would be to move itjust a tiny bit out of its orbit in order to change acollision into a near miss. Bailey thinks a solar sail mightbe a possibility. The sail would catch the small amount ofair pressure that comes from sunlight to steer the asteroidout of the way. He says, ?One could even imagine landing onit and firing a rocket engine.?
We?ve got a reprieve, since NT7 will miss us in 2019. Butsince it still may hit us in 2060, let?s hope they stopspeculating and start building something soon.
Maybe we should all try to get out of our bodies before ithits. Learn how from ?Astral Dynamics? by RobertBruce,click here.
To learnmore,clickhere andhere.
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