back to article Asteroid could SMASH INTO EARTH in 2040

Top space boffins are keeping a close eye on an asteroid that could collide with Earth in 2040. Orbiting rock 2011 AG5 is about 140 metres wide and could come close enough to spur on a crack team of drill-wielding heroes to save the world. The Scientific and Technical subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hypothetically speaking...

    ... what kind of damage could a 140 metre wide asteroid do if it struck Earth?

    1. Mako

      Re: Hypothetically speaking...

      Depends on what it's made of, how fast it's going and what angle it hits at. But to give you some perspective, here's what happens when a 50-metre nickel-iron meteor hits:

      Not so bad if it touches down in the middle of nowhere, not so great if it happens in the middle of your road.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hypothetically speaking...

      Depends where it landed or if it exploded in the air.

      If it happened over a city it would be catastrophic to the point of no more city

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Hypothetically speaking...

        Catastrophic? Depends on the city.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Hypothetically speaking...

      50-100MT of TNT or so, depending on speed, density, etc.

      Enough to wipe out a megapolis of your chosing if it lands on top of one. Sizeable tsunami at sea too.

    4. Bill Neal

      Re: Hypothetically speaking...

      why is this more news-worthy than Apophis? Is it just because we can practice something on this little rock before the next bigger one comes by?

    5. Alpha Tony

      Re: Hypothetically speaking...

      It could wipe out an area the size of Greater Manchester.

      Although I doubt we will be that lucky.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    6. ItsNotMe

      Re: Hypothetically speaking...

      Any chance of getting it re-routed towards Cupertino, CA?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Allan George Dyer

          Re: Hypothetically speaking...

          "That worked out just fine" - So, by fine you mean "dominant life-form wiped out, to be replaced by currently insignificant small hiding thingies". Are you, by any chance, not human, but insectile?

          1. Thomas 4

            Re: Hypothetically speaking...

            Even if the odds of it hitting are remote, it could be a good opportunity to use it as a "practice run" for when the inevitable happens and we do get a rock that could be a problem.

          2. david 63

            @Allan George Dyer...

            ...look up irony. And then re-read.

    7. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: Hypothetically speaking...

      A rule of thumb for impacts is to take the size of the object and multiply by ten to get the size of the impact crater.

    8. itzman

      Re: Hypothetically speaking...

      A lot more than glubble werming, but not as much as a Green World government...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In 2040 humanity will be looking up at the sky with a same stupid expression the dinosaurs had when the rock hit them. Instead of terra-forming Mars we'll have wars for oil and water.

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      I kind of like the idea of civilisation being resetted just before having gained the ability to deflect an asteroid...

    2. PT


      "In 2040 humanity will be looking up at the sky with a same stupid expression the dinosaurs had when the rock hit them."

      As usual, The Onion brought us that news first.,19025/

  3. Esskay

    A group in need of a theme song

    "Former Apollo astronaut and NEO specialist Rusty Schweickart, representing the Association of Space Explorers"

    Sadly I have a feeling their numbers will be dwindling in the coming decades... I can see earth, in 2039, people screaming in the streets, looking to the sky and wailing "Association of space Exlporers, where are you?" Before some terrific voice yells out "Explorers...... UNITE!" followed by a montage and associated music, with a few men in their eighties zimmerframing their way to the nearest bus stop.

    On a more serious note, is it wrong to hope that there will be a collision just to see what happens? The rate of "OMG ASTEROID" headlines is only increasing, it's going to be a massive anticlimax if nothing ever happens. El Reg needs a collision or two to get the strike rate up.

    1. sisk

      Re: A group in need of a theme song

      It'll happen eventually. The likelyhood of it being in any of our lifetimes is pretty slim, but at some point in the next 20 million years or so the Earth will be hit by an ELE sized asteroid.

    2. dssf

      Re: A group in need of a theme song

      They can try:

      If an asteroid hits, they can put out the fire with magic, hehhehe

  4. johnnytruant

    Let's not get off track.

    I think we're all beginning to lose sight of the real issue here, which is: what are we going to call ourselves? I say it's time to start the Campaign for Lessening Impact To us Of Rocks In Space.

    I'll get some t-shirts printed up, someone go down to the ammunition stores, get the nuclear warheads and then strap one to Bruce Willis's head, he can nut the smegger to oblivion.

    1. BenR

      Re: Let's not get off track.

      I believe that you, Sir, owe me a new keyboard.

    2. Z-Eden

      Re: Let's not get off track.

      That's it, I'm breaking out the Red Dwarf DVD's later. I haven't seen it in ages, and you've just made me laugh quite hard!

  5. Alister Silver badge

    The most important thing... Bruce Willis still going to be alive by 2040?

    If not we're doomed I tell ya, DOOMED!

    1. Code Monkey

      Re: The most important thing...

      We can send Bieber up there. It won't change the course of the KILLER SPACEROCK but it'll be a definite improvement.

      1. Bitbeisser

        Re: The most important thing...

        Every little bit helps, and if not, it's not a great loss...

    2. Pete the not so great

      Re: The most important thing...

      Best freeze him now!

      1. perlcat

        Re: The most important thing...

        That's a very good idea. Wouldn't want to be Bieberless when we need to use him for kinetic deflection.

  6. wiggers

    According to the Telegraph...

    "NASA has said that options include deflecting the asteroid by attaching a probe to it and using the extra gravity this would create to steer it away from Earth over the course of millions of light years."

    1. Paul_Murphy

      Re: According to the Telegraph...

      Well that's alright then - I was worried there.

      So do they mean it's many years away (time), many light years away (distance), or the course will be deflected by (whatever unit they really mean) I wonder?

      I'm stopping now, thinking down at that level makes my head hurt.


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: According to the Telegraph...

      Strange, the Daily Fail has *exactly* the same nonsense text in their article:

    3. Code Monkey

      "over the course of millions of light years"

      What's that in linguini?

      Beer, well, because.

  7. Paul_Murphy

    If we lived in a Doc EE Smith universe

    We'd simply turn on a inertia nullifier and move our planet out of the way.

    What could possibly go wrong?


    1. itzman

      Re: If we lived in a Doc EE Smith universe

      Almost anything. You would have to do a galactic risk assessment study first.

      And remember Asteroids Have Rights Too, You Know.

      The final nail in the coffin would be of course when some wiped out nutter with a telescope discovers the face of Jesus on the bright side..

  8. Arrrggghh-otron

    Sounds like a job for Loyd Grossman...

  9. Winkypop Silver badge


    If enough people unfriend AG5 on Facebook, it will go away!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't forget to smoke Bruce a kipper.

    He'll be back for breakfast.

  11. Clive 3

    re: Hypothetically speaking...

    It has been calculated that the Tunguska event could have been caused by an asteroid with a diameter of 60 Metres with solid composition. So, depending on its composition it could cause a lot of damage but not capable of wiping out the planet.

    Unless the Tunguska event was caused by something far more exotic, like a black hole or UFO

    1. TheRealRoland

      Re: re: Hypothetically speaking...

      >Unless the Tunguska event was caused by something far more exotic, like a black hole or UFO

      I'm pre-ordering the History Channel documentary on Blu-ray...

  12. BilboBobbins

    What a fantasitc opportunity for the entire world to pull together to fend off an external threat.

    We're all in this one together ...

    1. Ben Holmes


      So what you're basically saying is, we're fucked.

      1. Roger Varley

        Re: @BilboBobbins

        Well, there's not much chance of the world governments getting their acts together by twenty to nine is there?

    2. Seanmon


      That's the most magnificently cynical post I've ever read in these pages.


  13. Imsimil Berati-Lahn
    IT Angle

    None of this matters because...

    ...We will all have been wiped out 2 years earlier by the 2038 bug.


  14. Xris M


    For something this size it will probably have a yield of between 100 to 1000 megatons, a 3km crater and a land impact would destroy a large urban area (e.g. New York/Tokyo/London).

    Of course the chances of it hitting a major population zone are slim, a more likely oceanic impact would create a sizeable tsunami that, depending on its location, could affect a considerable number of people.

    1. deshepherd

      Re: Damage

      Just started reading Arthur C Clarkes "Rendez-vous with Rama" and as usual he's almost spot on with his predictions ... that has a catastrophic meteor strike in 2077 which wipes out most of North-Eastern Italy.

      1. perlcat

        Re: Damage

        I had thought that it Rama would hit in South America, killing pack animals and causing church bells to ring. A regular Rama llama ding dong, if you will.

      2. itzman

        Re: Damage

        I thought the Italians had already achieved that?

    2. itzman

      Re: Damage

      that yield similar to wot stiffed Japan. Richter 8-10 sort of scale. BIG but not the end of life as we know it.

      So basically, it wouldn't do a lot really. Not on extinction of the species terms anyway.

      Is there anyway to make sure it hits, for example, Scunthorpe?

  15. jai

    deflecting from keyhole?

    so, they're expecting people to get their acts together and deflect this thing sometime next year?

    is there any chance that such a timeframe is remotely possible? i suspect the kind of organisations that need to be involved in causing this asteroid to swerve take more than a year to plan their agendas, let alone actually come to a decision, develop and deploy a solution.

    And, what if they get it wrong? Sure, they deflect it away from the keyhole zone next year, only to find that the new orbit means certain collision in 2023.

    1. henchan

      the keyhole

      The obvious solution to this and all incoming asteroids, which always seem to have to come in through the keyhole, is to just paint over the keyhole. Anyway, it's not as if we were planning to use it again.

  16. The BigYin


    ...we have about <28 years to get a satellite up to it and pull it away from the keyhole?

    Doable, very doable. No need to panic.

    1. A. Coatsworth

      Re: So...

      Yeah, we just need to attach a VASIMIR engine to the asteroid next time it gets close and let it work its magic. (I guess 2023 would be a very reasonable time to do it)

      But of course, panicking is always the funniest alternative

      1. The BigYin

        Re: So...

        So around 12 years.

        But then we have to consider the anti-asteroid lobby who will point holes in any data discrepancy and state that the asteroid's future orbit is just a model and that any action to rectify the problem will ruin the world economy.

        And as any fule know, the world economy is more important than the world itself!

    2. TheRealRoland

      Re: So...

      We just need to make sure we got the proper committees in place, to have drafted up the proper approaches to the issue at hand, and then have the UN approve these in one of their sessions. Bob's your Uncle.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not sure based on the graphic whether it'd hit Earth, but what about it hitting the moon if it were in just the right spot during it's orbit of Earth?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous John

      You never watched Space 1999, I take it?

  18. Colin Millar


    Can't we just fill the keyhole with superglue?

  19. sisk

    Mute point

    The world's going to end in a little under 10 months on December 21. Just ask anyone wearing a hat fashioned out of tinfoil and they'll tell you all about it.

  20. Fred 4

    This ones a small practice target

    140 meters - it is big enough to warrant intervention, but small enough that we can try various things - including a nuke - to deflect/destroy it.

    A nuke, or other destruction type attempt wont be such a bad thing - at 140 meters - it will break up into smaller pieces all having the same (sum total) kinetic energy of the whole, but even the biggest piece would likely burn up, or only cause minor damage.

    of course if we manage to deflect it that would be best from a 'lets see if we can do this, for when a bigger one comes along' point of view.

    And since it seems that US has taken it upon themselves to impose their laws world wide, then by al means it should the US that does this.

    now - back to reality programming....

    the UN will take this matter up, and by around the year 2050 have come up with a solution that will make everyone (and no one) happy, with an expected implementation time of about 10 years. In the mean time, the rock will have hit, set off a good sized tsunami, and wiped 200-300 million people from the world.

  21. Camilla Smythe

    God would not do this to us.

    "Consider the fleas on the cat. They neither work nor toil for to sup blood. Yeh verily even the cat scoffs Whiskas to provide its blood to the fleas and all at no cost to itself, purr purr. Then ask yourselves 'Why should God interrupt that which he has created by tossing rocks at it ?' Be calm, be pure, tweet via your iPhone.. all is well.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe it's all for the best

    I sat and thought about it for a bit, and decided the idea of a meteor hitting Earth with sufficient force to eradicate most human life would not bother me that much, there's little to recommend us.

    Just consider the upsides:

    1) Petty political bickering - gone

    2) Keith Vaz - gone

    3) US patent office - gone

    4) Syco - gone

    5) Reality TV - gone

    6) No more taxes to pay

    7) CCTV cameras - eradicated

    8) Famine - gone

    9) Small yappy aggressive dogs - silenced

    10) No more existing to work

    1. fandom

      Re: Maybe it's all for the best

      Don't forget to put yourself in the list

  23. Stevie Silver badge


    "further refine"

    No, that's "further DEfine". To "refine" its orbit we'd have to give it a shove or two.

    Are we sure this bunch are, you know, real scientists who know stuff?

  24. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Won't somebody think of the children?!?!?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I couldn't give two fucks - I won't be around to see it.

  26. Marty McFly Bronze badge

    Who cares?

    If this is a TEOTWAWKI scenario, then I am going to gather my loved ones, grab a beverage of choice, and sit back to watch the show.

    Some things are worth worrying about. Other things....well that is God talking to you.

  27. Ian 57

    Asteroid that could collide with Earth at 2040

    OMG - That's just after Eastenders...

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    lets ask...

    The religious nuts, surly their multitude of gods could do something about it right?

  29. Chris Sake

    Great, this is a wonderful opportunity for the gubmint to raise our taxes yet again, now that the green movement has been discredited.

  30. Local Group

    Not to worry.

    About 2 hours before impact, throw the wife, kids, dog and silverware into your Lear jet and land on your private island after the dust settles.


  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i hope they are going to tag this rock , develop and deploy longer term HD telescopic remote operated cams and related items to monitor and take advantage if its trajectory while its available to us locally, might as well take advantage of it to take more space readings before we try to get rid of it.

    as others point out, there's no need to panic, the dolphins haven't thanked us for ll the fish yet so it fine your not going to evaporate into a whiff of hydrogen, ozone, and carbon monoxide just yet,.

    and we could always put in a formal request to the Vogon constructor fleet to sort it out , and if that fails dont forget to bring back a round of Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters and a few copy's of Oolon Colluphid’s trilogy pocket editions of philosophical blockbusters: ‘Where God Went Wrong’, ‘Some More Of God's Greatest Mistakes’, and ‘Who Is This God Person Anyway?’ for the teetotaller's as you cant get these two items for love nor money around here.

    1. Local Group

      Have you ever seen a copy of this?

      "How to Create a Universe for Dummies."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Have you ever seen a copy of this?

        Would that be a history book, then?

        1. Local Group

          Re: Have you ever seen a copy of this?

          Actually, AC, it's a pastoral.

          Full of shepherds hitting on nymphs and tootling their pipes all in an Arcadian setting. :-)

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I bet the cost of deflection

    will be extortionately more than the impact rebuild, especially if it's a government tendered project.

    2 trillion bid accepted in 2023.

    delivery in 2040 will be 300 trillion, usual bidders EDS, SERCO, ATOS, IBM etc

  33. Robert E A Harvey

    I'm all for it.

    We can stop worrying about global warming, running out of resources, and the effects of big motors, and have one hell of an extinction party instead.

    WOO HOO!

  34. borkbork

    Why deflect it?

    Capture and mine it. Or just leave it up there for decoration. Compared to our neighbours, Earth's a bit lacking in the moon department.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everyone so far has overlooked

    the wonders this will do for the keyboard industry

  36. david 63

    I reserve the right... panic now as I will almost certainly not see 2040.

    Thank you.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    My goldplated Cooncil pension is due to mature about the time this bad boy might hit! Shame there won't be any tax payers left to moan about its goldplated qualities!

    Mind you as I've said before if you gold plate a turd its still a turd, just a very shiny one!

  38. DJ 2

    The data is old,

    There is no chance that it's going to hit in 2013, 100% going to miss us.

    In 2020 there is another slight chance, and much higher one in 2060, but I'll be 90 by then so I'll get a bottle of scotch and go out with a bang!

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