According to NASA, the kilometre-wide asteroid of clickbait fame will not hit us tomorrow. Shame.
According to NASA, the kilometre-wide asteroid that threatened to do a solid by romantically wiping out all life on Earth the day after Valentine’s will miss us entirely. Which is indeed a shame.
The incoming asteroid, known as 2002 PZ39, is hurtling through space at almost 55,000 kilometres per hour and as large as the world’s tallest building; and who particularly cares if it is just going to tease us.
PZ39 met NASA’s definition of a “potentially hazardous asteroid,” quickly firing up the internet’s greatest fear/grandest fantasy.
“Hey NASA can you confirm or deny this potential collision?” one user tweeted at NASA’s Asteroid Watch account on Wednesday. The question appeared to be a response to several U.K.-based reports of a close call with a “planet-killer” asteroid.
“Those stories are incorrect,” Asteroid Watch replied. “There are no concerns with asteroid 2002 PZ39 passing Earth.”
The asteroid is set to just miss us by a measure of 5.8 million kilometres, which is an equivalent of about 8 return trips to the Moon.
CNET noted that “NASA’s Sentry System keeps track of all the known asteroids that could potentially cause catastrophic damage to the Earth. Astronomers generally know when and where these bodies will pass by our planet, and they can predict potential impacts several hundred years into the future.”
The system is certainly not perfect, as astronomers later year fell asleep at the switch, only discovering the moronically titled OK 2019, an asteroid that suddenly appeared and barely scraped past Earth by a distance of 73,000 kilometres.
“It snuck up on us pretty quickly,” said Michael Brown, an associate professor in Australia with Monash University’s School of Physics and Astronomy. He later noted, “People are only sort of realising what happened pretty much after it’s already flung past us.”
Astronomers knew about PZ39 since they first discovered it in 2002. CNET notes that “the asteroid’s wobbly orbit takes it past Earth at varying distances every few years, but NASA has a pretty good idea of when and where it will be in relation to our planet at all times.”
So, NASA, are you going to hand over the actual end date? We’re tired of having our expectations dashed.