CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.—A NASA spacecraft descended to an asteroid Tuesday and, dodging boulders the size of buildings, momentarily touched the surface to collect a handful of cosmic rubble for return to Earth. It was a first for the United States—only Japan has scored asteroid samples. “Touchdown declared,” a flight controller announced to cheers and applause. “Sampling is in progress.” Confirmation came from the Osiris-Rex spacecraft as it made contact with the surface of the asteroid Bennu more than 200 million miles away. But it could be a week before scientists know how much, if much of anything, was grabbed and whether another try will be needed. If successful, Osiris-Rex will return the samples in 2023. “I can’t believe we actually pulled this off,” said lead scientist Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona. “The spacecraft did everything it was supposed to do.” Osiris-Rex took 4 1/2 hours to make its way down from its tight orbit around Bennu, following commands sent well in advance by ground controllers near Denver. Bennu’s gravity was too low for the spacecraft to land — the asteroid is just 1,670 feet across. As a result, it had to reach out with its 11-foot robot arm and attempt to grab at least 2 ounces of Bennu. The ancient asteroid, OSIRIS-REx will attempt to descend to the treacherous, boulder-packed surface and snatch a handful of rubble on Oct. 20, 2020. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona via AP) The University of Arizona’s Heather Enos, deputy scientist for the mission, described it as “kissing the surface with a short touch-and-go measured in just seconds.” At Mission Control for spacecraft builder Lockheed Martin, controllers on the TAG team—for touch-and-go—wore royal blue polo shirts and black masks with the mission patch. The coronavirus pandemic had resulted in a two-month delay. Tuesday’s operation was considered the most harrowing part of the mission, which began with a launch from Cape Canaveral back in 2016. A van-sized spacecraft with an Egyptian-inspired name, Osiris-Rex aimed for a spot equivalent to a few parking spaces on Earth in the middle of the asteroid’s Nightingale Crater. After nearly two years orbiting the boulder-packed Bennu, the spacecraft found this location to have the biggest patch of particles small enough to be swallowed up. After determining that the coast was clear, Osiris-Rex closed in the final few yards for the sampling. The spacecraft was programmed to shoot out pressurized nitrogen gas to stir up the surface, then suck up any loose pebbles or dust, before backing away. By the time flight controllers heard back from Osiris-Rex, the action already happened 18 1/2 minutes earlier, the time it takes radio signals to travel each way between Bennu and Earth. They expected to start receiving photos overnight and planned to provide an update Wednesday. “We’re going to be looking at a whole series of images as we descended down to the surface, made contact, fired that gas bottle, and I really want to know how that surface responded,” Lauretta said. “We haven’t done this before, so this is new territory for us.” Scientists want at least 2 ounces and, ideally, closer to 4 pounds of Bennu’s black, crumbly, carbon-rich material—thought to contain the building blocks of our solar system. Pictures taken during the operation will give team members a general idea of the amount of loot; they will put the spacecraft through a series of spins Saturday for a more accurate measure. This undated image made available by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu from the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/CSA/York/MDA via AP) NASA’s science mission chief, Thomas Zurbuchen, likened Bennu to the Rosetta Stone: “something that’s out there and tells the history of our entire Earth, of the solar system, during the last billions of years.” Another benefit: The solar-orbiting Bennu, which swings by Earth every six years, has a slight chance of smacking Earth late in the next century. It won’t be a show-stopping life-ender. But the more scientists know about the paths and properties of potentially hazardous space rocks like this one, the safer we’ll all be. Osiris-Rex could make two more touch-and-go maneuvers if Tuesday’s sample comes up short. Regardless of how many tries it takes, the samples won’t return to Earth until 2023 to close out the $800-plus million quest. The sample capsule will parachute into the Utah desert. “That will be another big day for us. But this is absolutely the major event of the mission right now,” NASA scientist Lucy Lim said. Japan expects samples from its second asteroid mission—in the milligrams at most—to land in the Australian desert in December. NASA, meanwhile, plans to launch three more asteroid missions in the next two years, all one-way trips. By Marcia Dunn
A Nasa spacecraft has successfully landed on an asteroid, dodging boulders the size of buildings, in order to collect a handful of cosmic rubble for analysis back on Earth.The space agency team behind the Osiris-Rex project said preliminary data showed the sample collection went as planned and that the spacecraft had lifted off the surface of asteroid Bennu.“I can’t believe we actually pulled this off,” said lead scientist Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona. “The spacecraft did everything it was supposed to do.”Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine offered his congratulations, saying: “We are on the way to returning the largest sample brought home from space since Apollo. If all goes well, this sample will be studied by scientists for generations to come.”The Osiris-Rex spacecraft sent back confirmation of its brief contact with asteroid Bennu more than 200m miles (322m km) away, drawing cheers from the mission team. But it could be a week before scientists know how much, if anything, was grabbed and whether another try will be needed. If successful, Osiris-Rex will return the samples in 2023.The US mission follows one run by Japan called Hayabusa2, which is due to return to Earth in December bearing samples collected from the 4.5bn-year-old asteroid Ryugu. When it lands in the Australian desert, it will be the first ever sub-surface asteroid sample to return to Earth.On Bennu, the Osiris-Rex spacecraft took four-and-a-half hours to make its way down from its tight orbit to the surface, following commands sent well in advance by ground controllers near Denver.
NASA has just released information on another asteroid that is heading for a near-miss with the Earth. This is the 69th such “close approach” within one lunar distance for the year. This may seem like a lot, but there were 84 such occurrences in 2019, so it’s not just because it’s 2020. In fact, if we keep at the current rate, we’ll only have two more such occurrences this year, than last. If you think that number is surprising, a total of 6100 meteors, large enough to make earthfall, rather than burning up in the atmosphere, hit the Earth every year. That’s an average of 17 per day. Of course, most of those are tiny and fall in uninhabited areas. So they really don’t make much difference. Still, the idea of rocks from space hitting the earth at anywhere from 25,000 MPH to 160,000 MPH is a bit scary and hard to comprehend. When I was young, the idea of a large asteroid, along the lines of what is believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, was a favorite theme of science fiction writers. The idea of having to save the world from destruction or rescue what few people we could make for great drama and lots of imagination. But what if it was real? With so much junk flying around in space, what if something large enough to cause some serious damage was to hit us? Could we survive? How could we survive? The Chelyabinsk meteor gives us a good idea of what a mid-sized asteroid can do if it enters the Earth’s atmosphere. Roughly the size of a five-story building, this asteroid literally exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk, close to the Ural mountains in Russia. The roughly 11,000 tons of rock hit the atmosphere at about 40,000 MPH, which caused it to break up about 12 to 15 miles above the Earth’s surface. The resulting explosion released the equivalent energy of 470 kilotons of TNT, 30 to 40 times the explosive power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in World War II. Although the Chelyabinsk meteor caused injuries to over 1,000 people, it was considerably smaller than the Tunguska meteor, which is the largest in recorded history. The explosion from that meteor, which exploded 15 miles above Siberia in 1908, was powerful enough that it flattened 830 square miles of forest and broke out roughly a million windows, some of which were hundreds of miles away. Scientists estimate that the explosive force of this asteroid’s destruction was the equivalent of a 550 kiloton explosion. Even though this is the largest asteroid to strike the Earth in recorded history, it isn’t the largest ever. The asteroid which is believed to have ended the reign of the dinosaurs is thought to have been 10 to 15 kilometers in diameter, creating a crater 150 km in diameter on impact. The explosive power of that impact was roughly equivalent to the simultaneous detonation of 60% of the worldwide nuclear arsenal, all exploding at the same time. Effects of a Meteor Strike It doesn’t really matter if you call it an asteroid, meteor, or comet, their effect can be the same. While there is a technical difference in these three words; when they hit the atmosphere and start streaking for the surface, that technical difference doesn’t affect the devastating effects that the larger ones can have. From here on the surface of the Earth, they may as well be the same thing. Most of the thousands of meteors that hit the earth are tiny, having no real impact on life here unless you get hit by one. But since the chances of being hit by a meteor are something like 1 in 250,000, that works out to one person being hit about every 41 years. Considering that there are over 7 billion people on this earth, you’re chances of being hit by one of those small meteors are 1 in every 287 billion years. Not something to worry about. But those marble-sized meteors are not what NASA spends millions of dollars per year tracking. They’re interested in space objects which are large enough to cause serious damage, such as the meteors mentioned above. We’re talking meteors that are at least a meter in diameter. The closest of these up to this point in 2020 has been 2020QG in August, which was 2.9-6.4 meters in diameter and passed 0.02 lunar distance from the Earth. Whether or not a meteor strikes the surface of the Earth and makes a crater or explodes in the atmosphere depends a lot on the composition of the asteroid. Most are a combination of rock and ice. As they pass through the atmosphere, friction heats the meteor up to about 3,000°F, enough to melt all but the hardest and most temperature resilient metals. This causes the meteor to expand rapidly and often to disintegrate. It is the speed at which this process happens, which causes an explosion. The larger the meteor, the more of an effect the explosion has, making for a bigger explosion. Direct damage is caused by a combination of the shock wave and the shrapnel released by that explosion, much like a bomb. But that’s not all that happens. The rapid destruction of that meteor would cause chemicals to be released into the atmosphere, most likely sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide. If the meteor makes it to the surface of the Earth, the explosive impact will kick hundreds or even thousands of tons of soot debris up into the upper atmosphere, much like a nuclear explosion or volcanic eruption. Between this and the chemicals released into the air, we would experience a period of global cooling, possibly to the point that it greatly affects plant life. This is what is believed to have killed the dinosaurs. The impact of the Chicxulub meteor on the Yukatan Peninsula caused global cooling, which reduced plant growth. That left less food for herbivores, who started dying out, reducing the available food for carnivores, causing their death too. While this all took time, in the great course of history, it was like a blink of an eye. But that’s not all the damage the Chicxulub meteor caused. It caused a huge earthquake. Since the crater is right on the coast, the combination of its impact and the earthquake it caused sent a tsunami across the Gulf of Mexico and out across the Atlantic, disrupting life as far away as Africa. Such a meteor strike today would kill billions of people, but it wouldn’t destroy the world. One meteor a half-mile wide would be the equivalent destructive power of 100 billion tons of TNT, 1,000 times larger than the Soviet Tsar Bomb, the largest nuclear device ever detonated. Some scientists have estimated that it would take a meteor that’s have estimated that it would take a meteor that’s 60 miles in diameter to destroy the Earth. Fortunately, there are no known asteroids that are that large. But that’s not to say that there might be something out there which is as of yet undetected. Of the 69 close approaches this year, 41 of them were not detected until they had passed the Earth. NASA believes that they are currently finding only 10% of the space rocks out there. Stopping an Asteroid NASA is working hard at improving their asteroid detection capability, but it’s no small task. Unlike any other form of defense, which is essentially two-dimensional, even including the threat of aircraft, the threat from asteroids is a full sphere. Both of the major examples I gave earlier happened in Siberia, far to the north, while the Checxulub meteor struck considerably closer to the equator. Once a new asteroid is spotted, it has to be tracked and a projected course track calculated for it. Even then, it is possible for the asteroid’s path to be affected by other forces, such as the gravitational pull of Jupiter. The current plan for dealing with an asteroid is to send a rocket to intercept it and push it off course, through kinetic impact, much like in science fiction movies. An alternative might be to send a nuclear-tipped rocket so that the explosion could push the asteroid even farther off course. But without an atmosphere to transmit the energy, that would have to be a direct hit, off to the side of the asteroid, not an easy target. Future plans under study include modifying the asteroid’s orbit to put it into lunar orbit around the Earth. If anything, that’s an even more ambitious project than our current plans. But then, that’s what scientists do, come up with more ambitious plans and then try to see if they are feasible. Protecting Yourself from a Meteor As a purely theoretical exercise, protecting yourself from a meteor is a challenging scenario to look at. By and large, meteors the size of a car and smaller burn up in the atmosphere and never hit the Earth’s surface. But one the size of a house will produce more force than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima. This would flatted buildings within 1.5 miles of its point of impact. If that hit close to your home, it doesn’t matter what you do, you won’t make it. Even being in a bunker is unlikely to save you. While much larger than the size of a house, the Checxulub meteor made a crater 20 km or 12 miles deep. Good-bye bunker. But if you’re a bit farther away, that bunker could be quite useful. A 400-meter diameter asteroid is headed on a close approach, slated for 2032. That makes a good example. Should it strike the Earth, rather than explode in an airburst, it will create a crater about 5 miles wide and 1,700 feet deep. Everything within that crater, including more than 100 million cubic meters of rock would be vaporized. It would cause an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale. From 20 miles away, wind speeds would pick up to about 500 MPH within 90 seconds, with dishwasher sized debris flying through it. Pretty much everything within that radius would be flattened. Going farther out, there would be hurricane-force winds at 60 miles, shattering windows. Debris 2 inches in size would pelt everything, killing and injuring people and animals, as well as damaging buildings and cars. So a bunker would be quite useful if you were outside the impact zone. Assuming we had been warned of the meteor’s coming, you’d have time to get in there and ride it out. But that’s quite an assumption, with NASA only detecting 10% of all the rocks out there. Hopefully, our odds will improve. In the meantime, we have to depend on that sort of event only happening once every 100,000 years or so. Looking at the Longer-term Survival Issues After the immediate destruction caused by meteor, the biggest problem will be food. The temporary reduction in sunlight, which could last a couple of years, is going to create worldwide food shortages, as farms won’t be able to produce enough. What food is produced will sell for considerably higher prices, following the law of supply and demand. Your stockpile will make a huge difference in this case, providing your family with food to eat. Even more than that, what you need is the ability to produce your own food, without much sunlight. That means providing artificial light to help your garden grow. With that, you’ll be in better shape than 99% of the population. But that’s not easy to do. Interestingly enough, this is the same thing we’ll need to be able to do if the Yellowstone Caldera ever erupts. Resources  A “lunar distance” is the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, 384,410 km, or 238,860 mi.
Have you noticed that it seems like stories about asteroids that are approaching the Earth are constantly in the news this year? It wasn’t always this way. In the old days, maybe there would be a story about an asteroid every once in a while, and those stories were never a big deal. But now asteroids are zipping by our planet with frightening regularity, and several more very notable passes will happen over the next few weeks. For example, an asteroid that was just discovered on September 18th will come very, very close to the Earth on Thursday. According to NASA, it will actually come closer to our planet than many of our weather satellites… An asteroid about the size of an RV or small school bus will zoom past the Earth on Thursday, NASA announced, passing within 13,000 miles of the Earth’s surface. That’s much closer than the moon and is actually closer than some of our weather satellites. This asteroid will speed by at more than 17,000 mph, but the good news is that it is so small that it would not be a serious threat even if it hit us. But two other very large asteroids are also going to pass the Earth by the end of this month, and both of them are large enough to do an enormous amount of damage… Two large asteroids will pass Earth in the next two weeks, with one measuring up to 426 feet in diameter and the other 656 feet—comparable in size to ancient Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza, which is 455 feet tall. The first, smaller asteroid will pass by Earth on September 25 at a distance of 3.6 million miles, according to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies, which tracks and predicts asteroids and comets that will come close to Earth. The second larger asteroid will fly by on September 29 at a closer distance of 1.78 million miles. The good news is that neither of them have a chance of hitting us this time around, but the fact that the Earth’s neighborhood has so much “traffic” these days is a major concern. Any soldier will tell you that if enough bullets get fired at you there is a very good chance that eventually you will get hit. Let me give you a couple more examples of “near Earth objects” that are headed our way in the near future… In October, an “unknown object” is expected to enter our gravitational field and become a temporary “mini-moon”… An object known as 2020 SO is heading towards Earth, and from October, it will be a ‘mini-moon’, which could stay in orbit of our planet until May next year. While we have The Moon, Earth regularly gets many small asteroids and meteors which caught in its orbit, which astronomers call ‘mini-moons’. And in November, we are being told that a small asteroid will come very close to our planet on the day before the election… An asteroid is projected to come close to the Earth on November 2, a day before the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the Center for Near Earth Objects Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed. The asteroid known as 2018VP1, first identified at Palomar Observatory in San Diego County, California, has a diameter of 0.002 kilometers (over 6.5 feet), according to the data. Scientists say that it is not likely that this asteroid will hit us, but they admit that they cannot claim this with 100 percent certainty… And that’s why the future of 2018 VP₁ is uncertain. It was observed 21 times over 13 days, which allows its orbit to be calculated fairly precisely. We know it takes 2 years (plus or minus 0.001314 years) to go around the Sun. In other words, our uncertainty in the asteroid’s orbital period is about 12 hours either way. That’s actually pretty good, given how few observations were made – but it means we can’t be certain exactly where the asteroid will be on November 2 this year. Fortunately, this particular asteroid is also too small to seriously hurt us, and we should be thankful for that. But the fact that so many space rocks have been headed our way is definitely alarming. Back in August, an asteroid the size of an SUV came extremely close to hitting our planet. The following comes from NASA… Near Earth Asteroids, or NEAs, pass by our home planet all the time. But an SUV-size asteroid set the record this past weekend for coming closer to Earth than any other known NEA: It passed 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) above the southern Indian Ocean on Sunday, Aug. 16 at 12:08 a.m. EDT (Saturday, Aug. 15 at 9:08 p.m. PDT). What made that incident so unsettling was the fact that NASA didn’t even see it until it had passed us… The flyby wasn’t expected and took many by surprise. In fact, the Palomar Observatory didn’t detect the zooming asteroid until about six hours after the object’s closest approach. “The asteroid approached undetected from the direction of the sun,” Paul Chodas, the director of NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies, told Business Insider. “We didn’t see it coming.” Unfortunately, the truth is that our scientists simply cannot see everything that is up there. They are doing their best, but everyone agrees that our technology is limited. But over the last 20 years our technology has definitely improved, and at this point the number of asteroids that our scientists have identified is far greater than it was a couple of decades ago… The animation maps out all known near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) — space rocks that get within about 30 million miles (50 million kilometers) of our planet’s orbit — from 1999 through January 2018, in roughly 10-year time steps. The differences are stark. In 1999, identified NEAs speckled the inner solar system thinly, in a light dusting. Many more were discovered by 2009, and Earth’s neighborhood looks absolutely swamped in the present-day portion of the video. Of course more giant space rocks are being discovered all the time, and unfortunately many of them are not identified until after they have had a close encounter with our planet. If NASA couldn’t see the asteroid that almost hit us in August in advance, what else can’t they see? And is it just our imagination that the number of close calls seems to be increasing, or are scientists just getting a whole lot better at detecting them? At this moment we don’t have all the answers, but we should be thankful that our experts are trying to keep a close watch on the skies because scientists tell us that it is just a matter of time before we are hit by a giant asteroid. In the movie Deep Impact, such a scenario was called an “extinction level event”. As I write this article, there are thousands of giant space rocks floating around up there that could cause such a disaster, and NASA is working to catalog them all as rapidly as they can. ***Michael’s new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*** About the Author: My name is Michael Snyder and my brand new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available on Amazon.com. By purchasing the book you help to support the work that my wife and I are doing, and by giving it to others you help to multiply the impact that we are having on people all over the globe. I have published thousands of articles on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. 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