back to article MIT boffins plan for asteroidal doom

Researchers at MIT say they know what the near-Earth asteroid Apophis is made of, information that could be vital if we need to divert or pulverise the space-rock in 2036. By analysing its spectrum and comparing it with meteorites that have already landed on Earth, the team has "nailed" its composition, says Richard Binzel, …


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  1. Graham Jordan


    Bruce Willis would of long copped it by then, I doubt Paris Hilton would be up for the job of space mining.. get dirt in her space suit? "Like, ewwwwww!"

  2. Craig Lawson

    Devastating France

    Surely an asteroid devastating France wouldn't be normally a bad thing?


  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Devastate France?

    And this is a problem why? And what's that in square Llamas per inch, anyway?

  4. Ash
    Black Helicopters

    1:45000? I think not...

    It should be expressed as a probability instead of a ratio; 1 in 45000 suggests that there are 45000 possible outcomes, where there are in fact only two: Collision, or not collision.

    Anyone for a probability of 2.222°e-5?

    Chances are we'll all be GM vat-grown slaves by then anyway.

  5. MattW

    France is already devastated

    after the spanking they received on Saturday....

  6. An Unwashed Mass

    @Devastating France

    That's a brave thing to say if you're at the UK end of the Channel Tunnel (which will naturally be renamed as the Exodus Expressway)

  7. The Other Steve

    Slim chance...

    ... as calculated by NASA. Hmm, I hope they got someone else to check their working.

  8. Leigh Smith

    It does matter what it is made of!

    If you try and nuke it when it is made of Naquada you could take out half the solar system.

    Well it is named Apophis. They were just asking for Stargate jokes doing that.

  9. Jon Green

    OK, that's the composition, but...

    ...what's the mass, what's the density, and how uniform is the density?

    They're all rather important questions, if you need to give it a nudge and predict the consequences accurately.

    (Why? Imagine, for the sake of argument, that it's almost hollow at one end, but almost completely solid at the other. Now guess what happens if you nudge the hollow end, what happens if you nudge the solid end, or what happens if you foolishly base the nudge force on the assumption that it's solid throughout . There isn't a good outcome whichever way you work it, unless you know accurate answers to those three questions.)

  10. Tony

    @the other steve

    Don't be too harsh on NASA, they have landed men on the Moon several times (and brought them back) and landed robots on Mars a few times, most of them successfully.

  11. andrew mulcock

    sounds close


    have nasa not sent a probe thing of to look at metiors / asteroids or such like only recently, on a long trip.

    I assume some one's gogin to 'pop' up and get a sample of the one that's comming near,

  12. Brendan Weir

    When did planetary formation end?

    Small lumps of rock falling onto big lumps of rock IS planetary formation. Just because the status quo suits humanity, doesn't mean this is the finished product.

    I always said we shouldn't have bothered climbing out of the sea...

  13. Luther Blissett

    On knowing the enemy

    We are forearmed with splendid maxims from history:

    - Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer

    - Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake

    Please post any others you have. We need them all for dealing with rogue "tourist" asteroids - let us share this wisdom with the Hive Mind.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Brendan Weir

    "I always said we shouldn't have bothered climbing out of the sea..."

    You didn't. It was a piece of dna.

  15. Malboeuf

    I'm very concerned.....

    .....about the social consequences of a world-wide "'roid event", but this ain't it. Neither is performance enhancing chemicals.

  16. Bruce H Woodfield

    Nar, nar, nar, nar -

    You've all got it all wrong, Sillies!

    This is all another Roswell. The truth is that Nasa needs some more work for its moon-landing studio and has developed (sic) this story to keep the cameras rolling for another generation. And Nasa's new rocket is all part of the same plot - they will launch Bruce Willis II into orbit, hide round the dark side of earth for a few weeks, and then feed the TV news every day until their triumphant return after having 'saved' the planet. They will even 'bring back' some sample rocks they found in Antarctica to prove the story to the sceptics.

    The success of this venture will ensure Nasa all the funds they want ad infinitum. It is going to be gripping watching!

  17. Anonymous Coward


    Ok, I'm a bit late, but:

    "A 270-metre asteroid could devastate a region the size of France, or create huge, coast-engulfing tsunamis."

    Please? I'll put in my 5 credits* to nudge it towards France.

    *I assume we'll convert to a worldwide currency by then.

  18. Bob
    Thumb Up


    By then Germany will have invaded and taken over France...again

  19. Robert Hill

    The "size of" does not mean...

    The size of something does NOT mean "that actual thing". Whatever happened to Reading Comprehension 101??

  20. Storm Cloud

    270m rock takes out France????

    I know this is a fair chunk of rock, and it would whack this planet with a fair thump, but can someone please explain how something 270 Metres across takes out a country with a land area of over half a million square kilometres?

  21. jharek

    270m rock takes out France????

    actually it takes just one german soldier

    seriously though, E=mc2 is the answer your'e looking for

  22. Anonymous Coward

    270m rock takes out France

    You ask how? Here's the maths:

    Energy released = 1/2 * mass * (velocity ^ 2)

    Mass = fucking heavy

    Velocity = fucking fast

    => Velocity squared = fucking fucking fast fast

    ------------------------------ =

    France = fucked. QED.

  23. Andy Bright

    Tell me again why we care?

    Given the average lifestyle of most techies, we'll be long dead by the time this thing comes close. I can't believe anyone here seriously has expectations of breaching their mid 40s?

    So instead of nudging it away from Earth, why not wipe the smiles off the faces of all those smug health freak bastards that reckon cigarettes and booze will kill us, and actually make sure it scores a direct hit..

    Not only that but all those bleeding yoofs will get some too - bonus!

  24. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    @storm cloud

    "I know this is a fair chunk of rock, and it would whack this planet with a fair thump, but can someone please explain how something 270 Metres across takes out a country with a land area of over half a million square kilometres?"

    Ever thrown a rock in to a sand pit?


    I guess it was just me then...

    Well look at it this way, that big famous crater in arizona is said to have been made by a rock about 50 metres across. The crater it made is 1.2 kilometres wide and it spread its debris several hundred miles (mixing measures the good old fashioned NASA way) in every direction. The actual crater isn't the total sum of the devastation wrought by a meteor.

    A 270M rock moving at something like 40 metres a second would make a crater about half the size of Paris, and would spread its debris across hundreds, possibly thousands of miles. More immediate would be the shockwave, earth tremors and heat-blast. Even spots hundreds of miles from the blast would be turned from nice arable land into a muck-encrusted, uninhabitable waste. That's how an area the size of France can be devastated.

  25. Tim Brown


    1:45000? So I've got a better chance of being whacked by a giant space rock than winning Lotto.....


  26. Adrian Esdaile

    Why always France? How about, ummm... TEXAS?

    MIT are onto a good thing here. They should definitely try to nudge that asteroid, but I would rather they aim for a hit than a miss.

    I propose either Texas or the Middle East - either hit would solve the vast majority of Earth's problems in one go.

  27. Tony Barry

    Velocity of Apophis at impact

    From NASA's page

    Vterm for Apophis is about 12.5km/sec (7.7miles/sec).

  28. Bloody_Yank

    No problem -

    - for me .... I just did the math

    6 squared

    carry the 7

    divide by 0

    I'll be checking out between 2025 and 2030. I'm having my ashes dumped in a nice river that flows to the sea - that way my DNA can crawl back out of the sea in million years or so and I can live with the Unicorns

  29. Bruce H Woodfield

    Frog hops per eon

    Let me see now - 12.5Km/sec = 977.93 parsecs per millennium = slightly faster than the French can get out of the way.........

    I'm adding my 5c to those voting for target practice.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Photographic evidence?

    ...second image down...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Couldn't wait to read all those devastating France comments. Think about if the galactic rubbish hits France don't you think it might flush away at least some major part of your isles? Let alone if it does not hit France right in its middle but somewhat more in the north?

    Anyway, it was my first thought as well.

    EAfH, who is neither French nor British (not even Irish)

  32. Timothy

    And if they used the unpatched Excel 2007......

    Wow Stan, a 1 in 45,000 chance.....

    Three years later when the patch finally arrives and they are reviewing the spreadsheet - oh crud, that should be 1 in 5 chance.... BOOM!!!!!

  33. The Other Steve
    Black Helicopters


    "Don't be too harsh on NASA, they have landed men on the Moon several times (and brought them back) and landed robots on Mars a few times, most of them successfully."

    Yeah, that's what they want you to think !

  34. Sceptical Bastard

    Wrong target

    If it *did* hit France it would at least stop the sods shrugging condescendingly and blowing Galloise smoke into people's faces. But it won't - those perfidious bastards will collaborate with the bloody Krauts again and divert it to hit Coventry or Plymouth.

  35. Alistair

    Bring it on, space rock!

    Excellent! Since the millennium has been and gone, and 40 is but a memory, I have been in need of something to keep on living for. This'll see me through 'til I'm 70, and if I'm living in France by that time, I think a little space rock action will be just the ticket.

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