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September Doomsday Asteroid: NASA Wasn't Lying About Our Safety

Sep 24, 2015 09:02 PM EDT
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Congratulations! You survived another potential doomsday! Very early this morning, a 'massive' asteroid hastily whizzed past Earth, off to some other part of the solar system where it will wreak untold havoc - or, more likely, just keep flying solo. So why is it that some groups are saying NASA had it wrong about this 'near-miss' Armageddon?

The space-rock in question, called 2012 TT5, is nearly 900 feet (270m) wide and was one of several near-Earth asteroids that could be involved in a doomsday scenario this September.

Attention was brought to the near-Earth asteroids of this month after self-proclaimed prophet Rev Efrain Rodriguez declared that a massive object would strike Earth, likely somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, between the dates of September 15 and Sep 28, 2015. He later added that this prediction was born of a vision God had been showing him over the last 41 years, and that a meteor would strike the coast of Puerto Rico specifically, causing massive tidal waves and even an earthquake that would split North America asunder. You can watch Rodriguez explain his predictions for a whopping two hours and 40 minutes below, and you can even buy the prophet's video for two easy payments of $30. What a deal! (Scroll to read on...)

But before you break out your credit card and hustle down to your homemade disaster shelter, there are a few things you should know about all these near-Earth space-rocks closing in on us.

Firstly, they are all going to miss us... and miss us by a lot.

"There is no scientific basis -- not one shred of evidence -- that an asteroid or any other celestial object will impact Earth on those dates," Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, announced in a recent statement.

In fact, according to NASA's Near-Earth Object Observations Program, all known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids have less than a 0.01% chance of impacting Earth in the next 100 years.

What's more, while the program is surprisingly unsuccessful at spotting potentially dangerous NEOs under a kilometer (0.6 mi) wide, the kind of damage such objects can inflict is just not apocalypse material.

Specifically, while car to cruise-ship sized asteroids can impact the Earth with 30 times the force of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, the angle at which they enter our atmosphere almost always results in what is called an air-burst, resulting in damaging shockwaves, but nothing strong enough to cause Earth-rending quakes. It has been estimated by the Russian Federal Space Agency (FKA) that these types of events occur every 30 to 40 years, and often over open water. Keep in mind that 71 percent of the Earth's surface is water.

Happily, NASA does boast a much stronger record for spotting Armageddon NEOs, with the Office of Inspector General estimating that the space agency is 95 to 100 percent proficient in locating and predicting the trajectory of 'doomsday' space rocks years in advance.

"If there were any object large enough to do that type of destruction in September, we would have seen something of it by now," Chodas reassured the public last Aug. (Scroll to read on...)

Still this hasn't stopped many from worrying all the same. The doomsday window is still open for four more days, and in that time, four more asteroids ranging from 100 to 525 feet (30-160m) in diameter are on their way. Eerily, this coincides with the Blood Moon Prophecy, which says the end is nigh on Sept 28 when the last of four 'blood moons' (total eclipses followed with six full moons in between) appear in our sky.

Chodas, however, points out that 2012 TT5, the largest of the last five potential asteroids this month, was less than a quarter of the size Rodriguez had predicted (4km). What's more, the remaining four NEOs are expected to get no closer than 14.7 lunar distances from Earth. That's a comfortable 3.5 million miles between us and certain doom.

So the odds are good that we'll all wake up to the same world tomorrow, giving us plenty of time to buy into the next wacky doomsday prophecy that comes our way.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

 - follow Brian on Twitter @BS_ButNoBS

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