Feeds

UK plans surveillance for Earth-menacing asteroid

Keeping an eye on Apophis

Build a business case: developing custom apps

UK boffins have come up with a plan to track the potentially planet-busting asteroid Apophis, according to a report on the BBC News website. The 300m-wide chunk of space debris is expected to make a close fly-by of Earth in 2029. Initial reports suggested it might actually collide with us, but more refined calculations allayed those fears.

However, there is a small chance that the 2029 encounter could set the rock on a collision course for 2036, so the Planetary Society offered a $50,000 cash reward for a mission plan which will allow us to find out more about the asteroid.

In response, researchers at rocket-makers EADS-Astrium have come up with a plan to study the rock's orbit, so that its future path can be better predicted.

Its plan calls for a small, remote sensing craft to be sent to the asteroid, arriving at its destination as early as 2014. It would then spend three years studying the rock, sending back valuable data on its spin, composition and size and temperature.

The firm says that if it wins the prize, it will donate the money to charity. The payoff would come if a space agency decided to go ahead with the mission. The cost of developing and executing the mission could run to hundreds of millions of dollars, the BBC says.

MP Lembit Opik, who before his involvement with a Cheeky Girl was best known for his fascination with the threat of an asteroid strike on Earth, said that the plan showed: "If we have the political will, we certainly have the technical know-how to do something about threatening objects".

An object the size of Apophis could do serious damage to Earth, depending on where it hit. Experts estimate that if it smacked into the land, it could leave a crater roughly six kilometres wide. A sea impact would throw up a wave with a deepwater height of between three and 22 metres, potentially very damaging to any nearby coastal regions. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.