Feeds

Deadly planet-smash asteroid was actually Euro probe

Patrick Moore on high alert in space boulder flap rumpus

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Asteroid-apocalypse experts were struck by a shower of eggs last week, as they prepared to sound the alarm over an incoming space boulder potentially capable of wiping out life on Earth - only to find that the object was a well-known European space probe on a planned flyby.

The Minor Planet Centre (MPC) - which is to asteroids what the Cheyenne Mountain command bunker was to Russian missiles - raised the alarm last week. The MPC passed the word among astronomers that a deadly celestial object, designated 2007 VN84, would pass within 5,600km of Earth, and asked for tracking information.

That's less than half the Earth's diameter, or to put it another way some of the human race would have been closer to the murderous meteor than to the Earth's core. Only a tiny error in the trajectory of the presumed hurtling colossal space boulder could have seen it blasting the world to smithereens - or at the very least wiping out civilisation, devastating the ecosystem, giving rise to a lot of articles using the phrase "eerily reminiscent", etc. Some kind of plan to pepper 2007 VN84 with nuclear bombs and/or strangely-necessary oil barons played by Bruce Willis would probably have been necessary.

Apparently Bruce Willis had not yet been placed on alert - though a UK backup plan involving Patrick Moore was well under way, according to Metro - when a Russian astronomer piped up.

Muscovite skywatcher Denis Denisenko revealed that the menacing meteor was in fact a European Union space battleship bent on world domination the European Space Agency Rosetta probe, passing close to Earth for a long-planned gravity-assist "slingshot" manoeuvre.

The MPC meteor watch chiefs were not amused, issuing the following statement, annotated by the Reg.

Denis Denisenko suggested that the object designated 2007 VN84... might be the Rosetta spacecraft. Our investigation of this possibility... shows that this suggestion is indeed correct [god dammit]... This incident... highlights the [god damned] deplorable state of... information on distant artificial objects... data is not always available for the timespans needed. A single source for information on all distant artificial objects would be very desirable. [You Europeans think you're so goddam funny. Well, you wait 'til a real one comes. Who'll be laughing then, huh, chuckleheads? Us, that's who.]

Patrick Moore, having apparently checked matters out personally, seemed reluctant to commit himself. He told Metro: "It certainly wasn't an asteroid. And the last comet to hit us was about 65 million years ago, when the theory is it wiped out the dinosaurs." ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar
Movie special effects project spawns academic papers on gravitational lensing
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.