Monday, January 29, 2007

Apophis


Interest continues to grow. Thank you, Samwise, for including this little blog on your roll. As you would say, "There's some good left in this world, and it's worth fighting for!" Thanks also to Mixed States and Megite Science News for adding to your feed.

Thanks to Astroprof too. This week his interest in asteroids coincides with mine. Asteroid 99942 Apophis was only discovered in 2004. On April 13, 2029 Apophis will pass extremely close to Earth, lower than our communications satellites. In 2036 it will come by again. There is a danger, but this is also an opportunity for a spacecraft rendezvous.

We can only compute probabilities whether an asteroid will strike the Earth. Recently I have been assigned to track asteroids, and it is a tricky business. Usually they are just streaks on a photographic exposure, subject to all the vagaries of atmospheric distortion. I've computed Apophis' position on November 2, 2012 when it will pass between Earth and the Sun. Projecting this orbit further into the future eats up more computer time and introduces more uncertainties

One solution is to follow an asteroid the way they we track aircraft, with a transponder. Currently NASA lacks the budget to land something on Apophis, but the Planetary Society is soliciting proposals. The Orion CEV should be in full operation before 2029; someone should consider a crewed mission. We may not land on Mars by then, but Apophis is a target which may someday touch our lives.

11 Comments:

Blogger CarlBrannen said...

Orbits are cool. I've got a mostly completed educational gravitation simulation you might enjoy here.

Right now the initial conditions are a comparison between Newton and Einstein orbits. The Einstein orbits are "knife edge" where they are very close to getting sucked in to the singularity and end up with huge precession.

What's different from the usual about the above simulation is that they are written as a differential equation in coordinate time instead of proper time. There are notes on how this is calculated linked in.

Eventually, I'll set it up with buttons that allow selection of different initial conditions illustrating various conserved quantities in various theories of gravity. Right now, I'm still too busy with elementary particles.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Rae Ann said...

I think with you tracking these asteroids we'll all be a bit more secure. In other words, we can trust that you're on top of things!

4:17 AM  
Anonymous Samwise said...

I came across your blog while looking for something along the lines of what the weather in Hilo was going to be like, I don't know why I bother, it's always "chance of rain".

I assume you've been out to Mauna Kea, if you're ever back this way, you should drop in.

9:32 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Great simulation, Carl. I am glad that you use both Einstein and Newton orbits. Rae Ann, it is good to havr a woman on top of things.

Samwise, sorry I didn't get back to you earlier. Hilo is the green side of the island, almost always with chance of rain. The rain and I drop in often.

10:26 AM  
Blogger SpiffyShiznickle said...

What impact will the "Galatic Alignment" have on the orbit of Apophis? I have not heard anyone talk about this. Won't the potential gravity wakes created result in a shift in NEO orbits?

Todd

12:15 PM  
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Anonymous Generic Viagra Online said...

Yeah i have read and watch on tv many theories about the black holes and stuff, the theories say that the black holes are everywhere but have to happen something really big that let one of them to open and consume all the universe, a phenomenon like this including apophis can open one, but that is just a theory.

4:12 AM  
Anonymous pharmacy said...

I think that with so many earthquakes hitting us around the globe, one may ask if the 2012 prophesy is true, I think it is, if the ancient cultures knew about it, why would they be wrong when they were right in all of the cosmological facts.

10:10 AM  
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