back to article UK plans surveillance for Earth-menacing asteroid

UK boffins have come up with a plan to track the potentially planet-busting asteroid Apophis, according to a report on the BBC News website. The 300m-wide chunk of space debris is expected to make a close fly-by of Earth in 2029. Initial reports suggested it might actually collide with us, but more refined calculations allayed …


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  1. Simon Reed

    Oh. My. God.

    Has anyone checked these people for signs of Mad Scientist Disease?

    "So, Egor, we shall land our craft on the asteroid, be the only people in the world with detailed knowledge of its trajectory and so be the only ones able to alter its course. We shall attach to the rock, fire the thrusters nd alter its course by athe teeniest amount and thereby ensure it will hit the Earth! Every one will die and I will RULE THE WORLD!!!


    Oh shit.

  2. Steve ten Have

    No Stress

    Massive asteriods only ever hit the States, the rest of the world will be safe.

    I know this because the movies say so.

  3. Fabrizio Marana

    I hope it hits the Earth...

    ... so we won't have to tackle the "Jan 18 21:14:08 2038" date problem.

    I couldn't face another one of those...


  4. Andrew Bush

    Point of impact

    If it lands on Lembit Opik it would be worth the massive crater or tidal wave.

  5. Ronan Tumelty

    I don't wanna close my eyes...

    Am I the only one hearing Steve Tyler's dulcet tones here?

  6. Adam

    @Fabrizio Marana

    You actually expect 2038 to be a date problem?

    We have 31 years, to develop software that either totally avoids this problem or move up to 64-bit integers for time_t.

    Oh noes crisis! Lets all run around like a headless chicken because The Friday The 13th bug will do what the media promised would happen with Y2K in 30 years time!!!

  7. Shaun Vizer

    Small chance

    We don't appear to be able to keep data going from anything we have ever managed to land on Mars let alone a small rock being flung around in space on disparate trajectories...

    I don't fancy our chances somehow, there is sure to be some imperial vs. metric screw-up again

  8. Frank Bough


    If Steve Tyler's around, I most certainly DO wanna close my eyes. And ears.

    His daughter, on the other hand...

  9. CareTaker

    I know how to solve this problem

    We should fly a Goa’uld cargo ship to the asteroid and land on it. Instead of trying to move it we could set off a nuclear device and destroy it. If it turns out the core of the asteroid is made of naquadah and a nuclear device would be unsuitable, that’s no problem. Simply wait till the last available minute, open a hyperspace window large enough to envelop the asteroid and jump through the earth with the asteroid in tow. That should put Apophis in his place. Of course we may need the help of another race; perhaps the Tok’ra might be able to assist us.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "That should put Apophis in his place"

    I was amazed to see such few references to SG1 in such an obviously richard dean anderson themed article... but of course, it's always bruce willis eh?

  11. Proton Wrangler

    Reg is consistant

    Should have know there couldn't be a science article without the "B"-word.

    Keep it out of the title but work in into the first sentence. Sigh.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Someone has been watching just bit too much stargate.......

  13. preethi

    had enough of

    watching people in the uk with all those cameras, turn them skyward now!!!!!

  14. Dave Murray


    Lembit Opik said that the plan showed: "If we have the political will, we certainly have the technical know-how to do something about threatening objects".

    Err.. No Lem it shows we have the technology to find out if and when it will hit us. I didn't read anything about stopping it.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @small chance

    They'll get metric VS imperial mixed up and bump the asteroid into us. This is a good thing.

  16. Bo Pedersen

    Asteroid impact

    Well I for one have feared this kind of devastation for years, so much so that I have been working on such a remote controlled spacecraft, which is cheap to manufacture and easy to deploy.

    I will consist of 4 large metal bars, creating a triangular A shape, with one mount point for a Laser cannon, and three points for Ion thrusters for manoevurability

    these will be so cheap to build, you could send three up at once to tackle the problem, then of course you could charge a small fee for each asteroid destroyed, and once you reach say ooooh 10000 or so you could get an extra craft.


  17. Andy Bright

    Ironic perhaps

    I still think the biggest irony will be when while testing what we can do to track or shift earth-dooming asteroids and comets, we end up shifting one straight at us.

    Luckily my lifestyle, diet, toxic input from various legal and non-legal sources, drinking, lack of exercise and an extremely annoying wife mean it's certain I won't be around when we do it.

    On the other hand if we're going to do all this testing and potential planet destroying, it would be nice if they could hurry up so I get to say "I told you so".

  18. brainwrong

    Put an ankle tag on it.

    Maybe we should find it guilty of plotting to murder, and sentence it to be tagged for the next 30 years. Then Group 4 would be able to follow its every move.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some thoughts

    So far, nobody knows whether Apophis is a large chunk of rock, or a big ball of gravel.

    In the first case, in 2029 it (mostly) harmlessly slingshots off Earth into a new orbit, maybe taking out a high orbit satellite or two.

    Then passes by in ten more years to scare us again. (Very, very small chance that it'll hit on second pass, it's just that we're not sure of the odds yet.)

    If it's a big ball of gravel, the gravitational shear forces of its flyby might just be enough to pull it apart, in which case we get a lot of (mostly) harmless meteor showers down here, but lose a lot of satellites, with a repeat ten years later when the remainder of it swings by again. (Might be time to start seeing if those old telegraph cables are in good shape!)

  20. jharek

    apophis = ghey

    dont care, i'll be dead already

  21. tony trolle

    John Wyndham.could be right

    The Day of the Triffids ? get your weedkiller now or will the global warming raise the sea level up so much we wont need it.

  22. Henry Wertz

    Re: 2038 bug

    "You actually expect 2038 to be a date problem?

    We have 31 years, to develop software that either totally avoids this problem or move up to 64-bit integers for time_t.

    Oh noes crisis! Lets all run around like a headless chicken because The Friday The 13th bug will do what the media promised would happen with Y2K in 30 years time!!!


    Yep, I expect it to be a problem. A big part of the Y2K problem was programmers in the 70's, 80's and even 90's saying there was plenty of time before 2000 people said "hey, 2000 is not for another 30 years". Therefore, all kinds of kludges, replacements, and fixes had to be worked in at the last minute.

    I fully expect around 2037 or so, there will be all these 32-bit embedded systems still in place, and all these PHBs (pointy-headed bosses) will be like "oh snap! 2038 bug!" just like the 2000 bug.

    As for what that has to do with an asteroid... *shrug* well whatever.

  23. martin

    bottom moon

    How about getting the Cheeky Girls to bump it off course using there perfect bottoms?!

  24. Jeffery Hays Black

    What? Another Armageddon Scheme?

    As if? With global warming, nuclear Iran, peek oil, resurging communisim in Russia w/new nuke missels, China on a binge military buildup, Pakistan with Islamic nukes, and everything else I forgot to mention. Why worry?

    Oh yeah, the thousands of years long Israeli VS. the World crisis and now the dividing of Jerusalem. That is sure to piss off God. Maybe a good rock in the head is just what we need. Or do we have to many rocks in our heads already?

    Lets just go to the desert, drop some mega doses of acid or peyote and have a good view of it all.

  25. carl sanderson

    oh well

    I always thought earthlings were intelligent folk. Just solve the problem dont go on about it!!

  26. Jeffery Hays Black


    No not intellegent at all, dumb as sheep. Anyway what I meant was, there are enough problems already, why worry about another one. Everything is going to do us in, this is just another obsession with doom.

    Don't worry be happy.


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