A recent cosmic"Near-Miss" involved good OL'Earth
It's OK to miss an appointment sometimes....





A news from AFP (see below) told us that our planet barely escapes a collision with a 120m-large asteroid, that may have caused considerable damages upon a possible crash on Earth. Surprisingly enough, this asteroid remained undetected while it approached our planet. As was another, that cruised near by us (3 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon), about a month ago. For this one, the explanation proposed to account for its non detection was that it came right from the direction of the sun...
 

AFP, Paris, June 20th...

An asteroid, the size of a football (soccer) game, nearly hit our Earth on June 14th, as it got as close as 120 000 kilometers (note from Ufocom-Sci: a bit less than half the distance from the Earth to the Moon!). It was detected only three days later by several scientific agencies.

Called 2002 MN, this 120m-large asteroid is regarded as a "small-size object, unable to cause major damages such as those that led to the extinction of dinosaurs", said officials from the BNSC (Britain's National Space Center). "However, if it had hit our Earth, it may have caused damages comparable to those observed in Toungouska (Siberia), where 2 000 km2 of forests have been devastated in 1908", added officials from the British Agency.

The last event of this time occurred on December 9th, 1994, as a 10m-asteroid, termed 1994 XM1, got as close as 105 000 kilometers from us.

The arrival of 2002 MN in the immediate "suburb" of Earth, has been confirmed by the US space agency (NASA) on its internet site, but the US magazine "Sky and Telescope" added that the object has indeed been detected only on June 17, i.e. 3 days after the near-miss. "The most striking point is how close the object was from Earth" commented the magazine. "The consequences of a possible collision depend mostly on the type of rocks that constitute this asteroid, but surely, they would have been equivalent to what happened in Tougouska, releasing an energy comparable to that delivered by the most powerful "H" bombs."

The probability for an asteroid to hit Earth is very low, and decreases as the size of the asteroid increases. The astronomers try to detect the asteroids over 1 000 m-large, the impact of which on Earth may cause major damages and effective climate modifications.
 

Transmitted and translated from French by Yves, Sci team.
June 21st, 2002
 


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