Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/08/17/comet_elenin/
COMET WILL DEFINITELY NOT HIT EARTH – NASA
Aaiee! We're all going to die!
OMFG Rather worryingly, US space agency NASA has out of the blue issued a strident denial that an approaching comet poses any threat to planet Earth.
"COMET ELENIN POSES NO THREAT TO EARTH," begins the NASA statement emailed to the Register.
"Often, comets are portrayed as harbingers of gloom and doom in movies and on television, but most pose no threat to Earth," it continues, adding, "Comet Elenin, the latest comet to visit our inner solar system, is no exception" (presumably is no exception to the rule that most comets are harmless, rather than the rule that some of them, apparently, do pose a threat).
The space agency goes on to say that Comet Elenin will make its closest approach to Earth on 16 October, at which point it will be 22 million miles away – more than 90 times as far off as the Moon.
A handy Q&A is also included, which rather labours the central point that Comet Elenin will definitely not crash into the Earth and wipe out all life on its surface. Nor will it cause any other apocalyptic disasters:
Q: Can this celestial object cause shifting of the tides or even tectonic plates here on Earth?
A: [Paraphrasing NASA] No. Idiot.
Q: I've heard about three days of darkness because of Comet Elenin. Will Elenin block out the sun for three days?
A: [Again paraphrasing a rather waffley answer] WTF? No!
And best of all:
Q: Why aren't you talking more about Comet Elenin? If these things are small and nothing to worry about, why has there been no public info on Comet Elenin?
A: [Again, distilled] Because it is small and nothing to worry about! Moron.
Nonetheless we feel sure that all right-thinking internet denizens will react to this unconvincing, overly wordy denial with the disbelief it deserves, and will wonder just what NASA has to hide here – if not indulge in a full-fledged and hopefully mildly hilarious panic.
As ever, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or by mail. ®