Asteroid near miss

You're reading Mikko Saari's blog Life and opinions. This entry was written 12/28/2004, at 14:00.

If you want read more of my entries in the same topic, this entry belongs to the category of Geek stuff.

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NASA's Near Earth Object Current Impact Risks page says the MN4 asteroid has a probability of 3.8e-05 % or 1 in 26,000 to actually hit the Earth. It's Torino Impact Hazard Scale level is one, A routine discovery in which a pass near the Earth is predicted that poses no unusual level of danger. December 24th CNN (Scientists study orbit of newly found asteroid) said the asteroid had a 1 in 300 probability of hitting us and a Torino rating of 2. At it's peak MN4 had an impact probability of 1 in 37 and Torino rating of 4.

Here's a timetable of impact probabilities for interested parties:

2004-12-24: 1 in 300
2004-12-24: 1 in 62
2004-12-25: 1 in 42
2004-12-25: 1 in 45
2004-12-27: 1 in 37
2004-12-27: 1 in 26,000

(source: 2004 MN4 at Wikipedia)

Asteroid 2004 MN4 reduced to Torino zero, says UK NEO Information Centre. So I guess now it's time to breathe a breath of relief. We're safe again.

This all has been quite interesting, hunting for information. After all, MN4 was first asteroid to have a Torino rating over one. In the end it was the first asteroid to drop from Torino four to Torino zero, too, but that's just good. It's a good question whether or not such warnings should be announced at all - why publish the scary news of (almost) certain death in 20-30 years time when the probability of such news being cancelled next week is much higher than the probability of the impact?

Anyway, MN4 is still predicted to pass within the Moon's orbit in 2029 and is still a minor risk when it returns in 2053. However, the current highest risk is once more 2004 VD17, which has an 1 in 17,000 probability of hitting us within the next 100 years or so (highest probability being in 2091).

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