Feeds

600 tonne asteroid in low pass above Falkland Islands - TONIGHT

Will be nearer Islanders, Brit garrison than Japan is

Intelligent flash storage arrays

An asteroid the size of a bus and massing 600 tonnes is barrelling through space toward planet Earth at terrific speed as this report is written. Astronomers say there is no chance that the object, dubbed 2011 MD, will strike our planet but it will corner sharply through our gravitational field and descend to just 7,600 miles above the surface.

Track of asteroid 2011MD past Earth. Credit: NASA

Just a hair the to the north and ... well, basically nothing would happen

Thus, if you were standing beneath 2011 MD's point of closest approach the speeding asteroid would be closer to you than the other side of the planet is: closer than Australia is to someone in London, for instance*.

In fact, as 2011 MD is expected to reach its lowest point this evening above the South Atlantic, only residents of the Falkland Islands and passing mariners will be beneath it (and it will be nearer to them than Japan is, as well as being much nearer than communications and TV satellites in geostationary orbit).

According to NASA the hurtling space boulder is "5-20" metres across and masses something on the order of 630 tonnes. If it were to strike Earth - which it won't - it would release energy equivalent to a measly 10,000 tonnes of TNT exploding. Even this would be entirely within the upper atmosphere: 2011MD isn't big enough to avoid burning up on its way down, there would be no surface impact.

"One would expect an object of this size to come this close to Earth about every 6 years on average," comment the astronomers of NASA's Near Earth Object Program Office. ®

*For our non-British readers, simply substitute the relevant Antipodean region as may apply to you.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.