03 Oct 2008
Target Earth

Meteor Crater, AZ “Unfortunately, for SV11 the alarm is not over, the date of possible impact has shifted to April 1, 2009, but it is NOT an April’s fool.” — minor planets mailing list, hat tip to Technocrat.

Look on the bright side — you may not have to fill out that 1040 after all. Actually, things aren’t as bad (probably) as they may appear from those posts (the rating has dropped from the Palermo -2 rating mentioned). About the ratings…

The Torino Scale is designed to communicate to the public the risk associated with a future Earth approach by an asteroid or comet. This scale, which has integer values from 0 to 10, takes into consideration the predicted impact energy of the event as well as its likelihood of actually happening (i.e., the event’s impact probability). The Palermo Scale is used by specialists in the field to quantify in more detail the level of concern warranted for a future potential impact possibility. Much of the utility of the Palermo Scale lies in its ability to carefully assess the risk posed by less threatening Torino Scale 0 events, which comprise nearly all of the potential impacts detected to date. Objects are prioritized according to their Palermo Scale values in order to assess the degree to which they should receive additional attention (i.e., observations and analysis). This scale is continuous (both positive and negative values are allowed) and does incorporate the time between the current epoch and the predicted potential impact, as well as the object’s predicted impact energy and likelihood of occurrence. [from the NASA Palermo FAQ]

Here’s more information on the scales:

If you’re still concerned, you may be interested in the Dynamic NEO risk page [update: redirects to NEODyS]: “In this page we list all the asteroids for which possible impact solutions, compatible with the existing observations and in a time span from nowadays till 2080, are known, although we are proceeding to extend our monitoring to 2090. In all these cases we have been able to compute a very small, but definitely non-zero, probability of collision.”

image: USGS, Meteor Crater, AZ, Wikimedia Commons

Category: Sci-Tech
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