back to article Approaching space object 'artificial, not asteroid' says NASA

NASA boffins report that an unknown object approaching the Earth from deep space is almost certainly artificial in origin rather than being an asteroid. NASA JPL graphic depicting the 2010 visit of object 2010 KQ. Not actually an asteroid, according to NASA, but artificial. Object 2010 KQ was detected by the Catalina Sky …


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  1. Rob


    .....and que the internet nutjobs.... action!

    1. SuperSooty


      I'm sure we've had the 1st of April already this year.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Wonder if that dinky space plane thing they sent up the other day just happens to have a camera on it or a big gun just in case.. or maybe some cryogenic virgins ready to be handed over to a Galactic emperor.

  3. M7S

    Now I like a good panic from time to time - in others

    Why can't they tell us something artificial is COMING, which would let us all (well most reg readers) have wonderful fun watching the more nutty "end of the world cults", particularly after Xenu & Friends fail to actually do anything observable.

    And should it actually (the impact that is, not the nuttiness) prove a little fatal for some, then at least we were warned. One might almost suspect a conspiracy of silence.

  4. Anton Geijsendorpher

    Someone had to say it :-)

    The truth is out there!

  5. Namey Name

    Rendezvous with Rama

    That article sent a shiver as I was reading it.

    1. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge


      Shame the third book was so rubbish though.

      1. TimeMaster T


        The second was kind of weak too.

        One of the best parts of the first book was how Rama ignored Humanity.

        As much as I have loved Clarke's books his later works and collaborations really didn't have the impact for me his earlier works did.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          That's because Gentry Lee is a crap writer.

        2. AndrueC Silver badge

          2nd was tolerable

          The first sequel was okay for me. It retained and even augmented some of the original's sense of mystery.

          The third was just crap though. Should have been renamed 'Big Brother in Space'.

          1. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

            Didn't find them bad

            Actually enjoyed reading them all. Though frankly it went way to metaphysical for me at the end.

  6. Cameron Colley

    It's a Quagaar in his cryopod!

    Oh, wait, it's a Smegging garbage pod...

  7. JimC

    you tease Page....

    I thought you'd fallen for some internet hoax. I think it was "deep space" that did it: somehow in my mind that meant interstellar... I'm half suprised they haven't figured out what its from - there can't be that many artificial objects in Solar orbit can there?You'd think that identification by a process of elimination wouldnt be, well, rock... Oh yes, maybe it is...

  8. Anonymous Coward


    Oh $DEITY, I just hope there's not another run of bad novels coming out of this...

    1. Woodgie


      Excellent use of a variable there. I shall promptly nick it but credit it, of course.


      1. TimeMaster T
        Thumb Up


        I'll second that.


      2. AndrueC Silver badge




  9. EC1
    Thumb Up

    It didn't land

    So there must have been intelligent life aboard.

  10. karl 15

    Space Junk?

    "However the spacewatch boffins believe that it must have moved under its own power at some point"

    But if it's space junk how can this be?

    1. Jason Togneri

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      >> "However the spacewatch boffins believe that it must have moved under its own power at some point"

      > But if it's space junk how can this be?

      How do you think it got up there in the first place?

    2. Raumkraut

      One man's junk

      Just because it's junk _now_, doesn't mean it was always so.

      They just meant that it couldn't have gotten into the orbit it currently has through solely gravitational means.

    3. Alan Esworthy

      One word


  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not big enough?

    Have you never seen Men In Black? 10m is big enough for several dozen whole galaxy clusters to fit inside (not the choccie bar...although now I want one)

  12. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I for one welcome...

    ...aah you know the rest.

  13. Geoff Mackenzie


    The epochalypse!

  14. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Too small!

    Have you seen Independence Day?! A tiny ship crashed in Roswell, 50 years later a slipping big mothership comes along!

    Mark my words this is the end as we know it!!

    Stuff it, I'm off down the pub, you need beer to cushion your system during the jump into hyperspace!

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

      @ The Fuzzy Woznot...

      Don't forget your towel and a packet of peanuts either.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Not hyperspace

      The beer and peanuts were for the matter transference beam that got them onto the Vogon Construction ship.

      "... is green, yes."

  15. Anonymous Coward


    "and one would not expect a [naturally occurring] object to remain in this type of orbit for very long,"

    What scale of Long is he using here? a few weeks, years, decades, millenia?

    Would be interesting to check the spectral characteristics against other launch vehicles or back track past orbits to correlate to a launch... curious now...

  16. Eden


    Surely we have the tech to either get a good look at it as it passes or as the image suggests we had months of warning...send someone up to take a look as it goes by?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Didn't NASA recently test...

      ... a small space shuttle that the Russians think is some space fighter thing..


      Anon so the black helicopters have to raid Vulture Towers to find out who I am!

  17. archengel46
    Black Helicopters

    what about the mice

    you know the ones who built that super computer. 10m would be nice for a mice mothersip! I welcome our furry and whiskered overlords!

  18. Marc Lawrence

    When was the date..

    Of closest passing?...

    And did any strange people events start walking the earth?

  19. Steen Hive

    Booster Stage?

    How many space missions have jettisoned "booster stages" in free space, outside the gravity well of a planet or moon?

    I for one, etc ....

    1. Bod

      Moon shots, Venus & Mars probes, etc

      Noting I'm no expert or orbital physics, but the stage just to do the thrust from earth orbit to the Moon back when the Russians and Americans were firing rockets at it, would have been going some and perhaps enough to sling into a long orbit. More so with the early probes sent to Venus & Mars. There's a load of stuff obviously sent much further out, but don't know if they used stages like this.

      Not that this is outside the gravity of the Earth or Moon as it's clearly orbiting, just on an elliptical path.

  20. Feargal Reilly

    @karl 15 Space Junk?

    It depends how much power they meant - it could have been a stage which continued to burn after seperation, or even gas venting at a later date which would provide thrust. Maybe they are just trying to make you paranoid. The context really isn't very clear, but that is likely the case with any sentence using the term "boffins".

  21. Graham Dresch

    Miscalculation of scale

    See The Hitchhikers Guide...

    The G'Gugvuntt and Vl'hurg fleet, due to a terrible miscalculation of scale ended up being swallowed by a small dog.

    Otherwise it's probably Rama

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Could be worse..

      Could be Xenu...

      Paris, even she's not as gullible as Tom Cruise

  22. Seareach

    Nothing sadly about it.

    "sadly not an alien visitor"

    The remote peoples we Europeans visited over the centuries - the native Americans, the Africans, the Malays, all the aborigines of the world.... not to mention all the other native species on the other four continents... would really have preferred we hadn't bothered.

    Be careful what you wish for, dudes.

    1. Thomas 18


      Not to mention those blue guys with their wacky jungle planet chock full of unobtanium. The orbital bombardment and subsequent viral depopulation so seldom reported has really tarnished our reputation in the galaxy.

  23. DJ 2

    last passed us in 1975.

    From the MPML group..

    "It was given the asteroid designation 2010

    KQ by the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge Massachusetts, who identified

    its orbit as being very similar to that of the Earth. Orbit refinements

    by JPL's Paul Chodas and amateur astronomer Bill Gray have shown that

    this object was very close to the Earth in early 1975, but the

    trajectory is not known with enough accuracy to associate the object

    with any particular launch"

  24. Anonymous Coward

    InterStellar Politics???

    Passage during the month of May!!!!!


  25. Narlaquin

    Not the first time, HOPEFULLY won't be the last

    Article from 2002 about Apollo 12 (from 1969) booster in orbit after 30+ years. T

    Pretty spirograph-esque animation of Apollo 12's orbit:

    Apollo Boosters were also sent into orbits that would cause them to hit the moon, a couple of them missed. Any other launch vehicle booster could still be out there from one of the many satellite launches we've had in the last 50 years.

  26. envmod

    i for one

    i for one, would just like to take this opportinity to welcome our new, diminutive alien overlords.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Especially the gorgeous ones

      Perhaps it'll be Anna from `V'?

      1. Tzael

        Re: Especially the gorgeous ones

        I really hope Anna isn't who you meant when you referenced the new incarnation of V, I figured they chose her to play the role because she really does look like a lizard!

  27. Velv

    Atlantis ?

    Didn't Atlantis just return from space?

    Isn't it tradition that such vessels are "diverted to investigate" when something new is discovered?

    Well, at least in the movies .....

    1. Full Mental Jacket


      Just as long as the junk hasn't been anywhere near LV-426...

  28. Mike Flugennock

    Apollo 10's S-IVB?

    Stop me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the Apollo 10 S-IVB (Saturn V third stage) injected into heliocentric orbit after it finished the TLI burn?

    I know some of the S-IVBs were targeted for lunar impact after completing TLI -- some, to test out the seismic sensing experiments left on the surface -- but I know a few of them were injected into heliocentric orbit to avoid collisions with the CSM/LM (outbound coast) and CSM (inbound coast).

    I'm only wondering because of the reports a few years ago of an approaching NEO that turned out to be the Apollo 12 S-IVB.

  29. The elephant in the room
    Black Helicopters

    Stealth ship

    Everyone knows a stealth bomber has a radar return about the size of a sparrow, albeit a sparrow cruising at 600mph. So something 10m in size could be, by Zoolander calculation, at least... 3 times as big. And that's using 1980s human-tech. (Stealth is human-tech isnt it?)

    This £100 billion or so that has supposedly disappeared must have gone somewhere - my guess is it is the UK contribution to the squadrons of Orion-class Earthforce battleships being constructed on the dark side of the moon. We are providing the wallnut burr dashboards (spaceships are so expensive it is a false economy to leave them looking cheap). Not sure why the Greeks have to contribute so much - guess it has something to do with their gods really being aliens, as is well documented in sci-fi, which proves it.

  30. Mage Silver badge


    It's voyager returning?

    1. Doug Glass


      And one sexy bald woman sadly now deceased.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Maybe → #

      Don't you mean "V'ger "

      Exits stage left as phasers set to stun! :))

  31. Andy Livingstone

    I know how to defend myself

    I've started to dig out those old Slim Whitman records gain.

  32. ITDirector
    Thumb Up

    Pub conversation

    Strangely, a British amateur astronomer (*) was telling me about this down the pub (it's a Friday - where else?) and he had a few extra details:

    - the spectroscopy says the surface is 'titanium oxide paint'

    - the object is dense because it's oddly unaffected by solar winds (not blown off course) so likely to be more massive than usual space junk

    - believed to be Russian 4th or 5th stage rocket

    - 10% chance of earth interface in 2036


    1. Chris Hawkins

      Pub conversation → #

      Oh good grief...

      Sci-Fi movies do have a basis in fact

      "- believed to be Russian 4th or 5th stage rocket"

      Call for Eastwood, LeeJones, Sutherland and Garner...

      next, we're going to hear it the geiger counter indicates rogue lost soviet nukes!!! ((::)

    2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      But Shurlry

      you meant titanium dioxide paint

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cover up ?

    Strange how this peice of ancient space junk managed to use power to change its trajectory at an appropriate time. Surely a dormant rocket booster wouldn't have changed its tragectory.

    A few metres across would not contain many human sized visitors but it could contain thousands of smaller scale visitors - think HHGTTG and the small dog episode.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Weird orbital changes

      may simply be slingshot effect of moon. I also do not know what the principal plane of the orbit is, and foreshortening can cause WEIRD effects.

      <large friendly letters>


      </large friendly letters>

  34. Kelvari

    It's too bad...

    that nobody was able to get a good picture of it. This is where all of those deep-space telescopes and such could come in handy - zoom in and take a nice shot of whatever it is with Hubble or STEREO or something. Then we might have a better chance of figuring it out.

    1. Poor Coco

      Bad idea

      The reason it's bad: focal distance. The telescopes in space can only focus on extremely distant objects, so a tiny object passing by Earth is unobservable.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        even the moon

        can be focused on easily. EVERY telescope has plenty of leeway to deal with thermal expansion. The current object is easily far enough away.

      2. paulc

        bzzzt wrong...

        as far as all optical systems are concerned, anything more than a mile away is effectively at infinity...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Too bad...

      It's to bad that hubble can't take close-up pictures - only those very far away ones.

  35. Peter Page

    Good job we haven't slaughtered all the whales yet

    ...Or it might not have drifted harmlessly off again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      there be whales here!

  36. Paul Brandon

    We found one

    Would be great if this was the answer to the question "Where are all the von Neumann probes?"

  37. Ross 7


    Tenner says it's of earthly origin but has a note stuck on it saying "put your bloody rubbish in the bin!" ('cause we all know aliens speak English - why wouldn't they?)

    1. Elron Hubward


      ...there's a very good reason why ALL aliens speak English.

      As we all know English is the most perfect form of communication, with no room for misunderstanding or error and is vastly preferable to any other form of verbal communication yet discovered.

      It is inevitable that any sufficiently advanced society will develop it for themselves sooner or later which is why all ETs capable of interstellar travel speak it.

      Glad I could help clear that up.

  38. M Gale


    ...our local Martian's mum coming by to say hi, and dropping off some of that lovely Red Weed preserve while she's here.

    1. Anton Ivanov

      In memoriam of Jeff Wayne

      What is that? A flare... Coming up from Mars... With green mist behind it...

      1. Michael Hoffmann Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        The chances...

        ... of anything coming from Mars, are a million to one, he said!

      2. Duane
        Thumb Down


        Herbert George Wells surely?

        1. Anton Ivanov
          Thumb Up

          A particular interpretation of Wells

          One of the best albums ever made and out of all interpretations of Wells it is the one which is true to the Wells original book.

          Absobloodylutely phenomenal. One of the very few albums I keep listening to after all these years - in the car, while coding or just for the heck of it.

          1. John 62

            main theme only

            in my not so humble opinion, it's only the main theme that's worth listening to. Ba ba baaaaa, bababa bababa ba ba baaaa

  39. Yorkshirepudding

    It is seeking the creator

    maybe its a space probe that cant spell surrounded by a big cloud?

  40. Stevie


    It's a smegging garbage pod!

  41. This post has been deleted by its author

  42. Anonymous Coward

    So that is where

    Beagle 2 ended up

  43. David McMahon
    Jobs Horns


    trekking across the universe! etc

    When did Jobs land? Why he talking soooo long to take over the world one shiny shiny at a time?!?

    Those puppies were not approved in the bucket they go :(

    1. Colin Miller
      Thumb Up

      I'll see you that video and raise you this one

  44. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    According to A C Clarke

    The Ramans always do things in threes :o

  45. Daniel B.

    Does it look like the Voyager?

    Just transmit it the 'welcome back home' code. Don't wait for it to get pissed off!

  46. John F***ing Stepp


    They are telling us now that they cannot keep track of these things?

    And they get out there and become zombies and eat alien brains.

    Then they come back just to laugh at us.

    OK, I am going in the basement and pulling the old Nuke out.

    It is our last best chance and all.

    I realize that not keeping up the radioactives and all and no dusting, that the damn thing will hang fire and fizzle.

    But surely a fizzle at this point is better than no response at all.

    The reptiles are upon us.

    We are screwed and these f*cks are two years ahead of time.

    Well, get out the lolly and grease the lift shaft, I do hope the blue touch paper lights this time.

    (Still trying to learn English.)

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      of course we can't keep track of everything

      "wunze ze rockets are up who cares vere zey come down?

      Zat's not my department" says Werner von Braun

      In the words of the great Tom Lehrer

  47. Steve Evans


    It's voyager... They still haven't realised the universe is actually just a painted backdrop to a cheap alien reality TV show about a fictitious solar system and Voyager bounced off the wall and came back!

    I wonder if their voice over has a geordie accent too?

  48. Captain DaFt

    Can't anybody put two and two together?

    Apophis is due to take it's second pass in 2036, the same year as this object.

    Obviously, the alien overlords were upset at Apophis being off its orbit to hit Earth in 2029 and sent a probe to take accurate measurements and then guide it to a successful hit on its next orbit.

    (There, that oughtta set the tinfoilers panicking!)

  49. Doctor Who


    Time & Relative Dimension In Space .......

    Or Last Surviving Dalek ......

  50. fortheloveofgod

    The Invaders are here!

    The Invaders, alien beings from a dying planet. Their destination: the Earth. Their purpose: to make it their world. David Vincent has seen them. For him, it began one lost night on a lonely country road, looking for a shortcut that he never found. It began with a closed deserted diner, and a man too long without sleep to continue his journey. It began with the landing of a craft from another galaxy. Now David Vincent knows that the Invaders are here, that they have taken human form. Somehow he must convince a disbelieving world that the nightmare has already begun.

    One of the Invaders is Steve Jobs!

    1. Allicorn


      Man, that takes me back.

      I'd forgotten about the Jobs part too.

  51. Rocket

    put the truck into overdrive

    drain all the fuel and head for the island .. with an AC/DC soundtrack

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hubble etc simply do not have the resolution to look at something that small. It would been useless pointing them at it.

  53. OrsonX



  54. Max_Normal

    Coming home.

    klaatu barada nikto

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too small to be an alien mothership?

    Has anyone seen Ronnie Corbett recently?

  56. Anonymous Coward

    bag of tools

    dropped in spacewalk?

  57. ted b

    Artificial but only 10 MTRS

    probably the size of the cloaking on/ off button?

  58. ted b

    they were comin to invade our blue pearl

    but have seen US corporate kamakazi defensive in action in the Mexican gulf??

  59. Anonymous Coward

    Just wait

    All the scientists will need new underpants, when it changes course as it passes between the Earth and the moon, and settles into a high Earth orbit.

    Its been travelling for years but it will open the portal for the rest of its kind to follow, then the 7 hour war begins. Watch out for the civil protection squads, now where is Freeman?

  60. red hal

    Send up a missile and

    Nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

  61. Uplink

    We suppose...

    What kind of science is this? We suppose it could be artificial... And what a Google's Map satellites doing? Can't they point them the other way for a bit, and ask the space debris to say "cheese"? Are DoD's satellites too busy hunting Osama in Afganiraq and they can't spare a few seconds to make a photo of this? Alright, I'll open my trusty Photoshop then...

  62. JohnG


    10m long - was it a whale? Was there a bowl of Petunias nearby?

    Of course, now the aliens know how to sneak up on us - they lob something that looks like a discarded booster on a trajectory that takes it past Earth before floating off to be retrieved later...

  63. LaeMing

    They came, they saw,

    they left in disgust!

  64. Sam Therapy

    TARDIS junk

    You all saw the chunk the Doc grabbed last week? This is the rest of it, complete with the "bigger on the inside" bits poking out.

    Mine's the one with the sonic screwdriver in the pocket.

    PS The New Paradigm Daleks are crap.

  65. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    That's no moon.

    Titanium paint, you say?

    ...dioxide, are there other oxides of titanium and a need to distinguish? Honestly I barely remember (or care).

  66. Zmodem

    its some big bold midget aliens

    they will come back like a kids holywood movie and try and take over the planet

  67. John F***ing Stepp

    Well yes that is a moon.

    Dropped it's pants didn't it?

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Calling Major Tom.....


    Hey Tom, you remember the experiment you were doing back in the 70's with nuclear warheads in space, and one of the missiles took off on its own.....?


    Well it's payback time. Time to drop pants and start smuckering your rear end......

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