Near-Earth objects and close calls


Dagobah Resident
An update to the 80 mile wide Comet Bernardinelli–Bernstein came out two days ago. A summery can be read at Some excerpts:

- This new behemoth of a comet was first observed in 2010.

- This comet is currently far from Earth, zooming along at about 22,000 mph (35,405 kph).

- "This is an amazing object, given how active it is when it's still so far from the sun," study lead author Man-To Hui, a researcher at the Macau University of Science and Technology, said in the same NASA statement.

- ... ALMA's radio observations allowed them to hone in on the object's reflectivity, showing that the comet's surface is darker than they expected.
"It's big, and it's blacker than coal," Jewitt said.

- This comet, being so far from Earth and originating in the farthest-flung reaches of our solar system, is thought to travel on a 3-million-year-long elliptical orbit around the sun. Scientists think that it might travel about half a light-year away from the sun in the farthest parts of its orbit.

This rock is estimated to weight 500 trillion tons.

A research paper was released Apr. 12, 2022 on this comet. It's very technical and I didn't get into it. But you can find it here: Hubble Space Telescope Detection of the Nucleus of Comet C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein)



Dagobah Resident

China to build space ‘defense system’

Beijing plans to ‘track and attack’ an asteroid to change its orbit as early as 2025, a high-ranking official has said

Apr. 24, 2022

China seeks to build a system capable of effectively monitoring asteroids and potentially altering their course to protect Earth from a possible impact.

The deputy head China’s National Space Administration (CNSA), Wu Yanhua, revealed on Sunday that Beijing expects to hit an asteroid as part of an experiment at some point in 2025.

What is planned to be set up is a near-Earth asteroid monitoring and defense system that would also be potentially capable of protecting spacecraft as well, Wu told China Central Television during this year’s Space Day of China event.

The system, which would include both ground-based and space-based elements, would catalog and analyze asteroids to determine which ones pose a potential threat to Earth or humanity’s activities in space. In particular, the system would involve a computer simulation framework that would model potential asteroid impacts, he explained.

The project is still pending approval by the Chinese authorities, the Global Times has reported, adding that it requires “coordination of multiple departments.”

China is not the only nation concerned about the threat that asteroids could pose to Earth. NASA has been developing a similar project as well. In November 2021, the US Space Agency launched a probe designed to strike a small asteroid to test if altering its course through impact is possible and whether this can be an effective planetary defense against such a threat.

Mounted on one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets, the probe, called DART, is supposed to strike a small space rock orbiting a larger asteroid, changing the speed of the moonlet by a fraction of a percent – but enough to be observed and measured from Earth. The probe is expected to reach its target about 10 months after launch.

No known asteroid capable of inflicting serious damage is on a collision course with Earth in the next 100 years, NASA said last October. However, the agency added that 60% of such space rock might in fact remain undiscovered.

A meteor exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk back in 2013. Although the object burned in the atmosphere and only small fragments of it reached Earth, the explosion left over 1,600 people injured, with dozens hospitalized.


FOTCM Member
Another year has passed. As it turns out, 2021 (again) beats the previous all-time records of 2020 in pretty much all departments.

The Fireball Data for Japan has been published now. I've just edited the corresponding post below accordingly. Notice that the 2021 all-time record trend also seems to have happened over Japan:

Japan Fireball Data:


And the same data expressed in numbers:


Edit: [21.05.2022] Japan Fireball Data added: Note that the source of the Fireball Datasets from Japan have changed compared to the previous years and I'm not 100% certain that the above data actually represents the confirmed meteors anymore since they scrubbed that term for those numbers. Considering though that those numbers correspond quite closely to the numbers of the previous years I suspect that those still represent the confirmed Meteors and that they just didn't label them as such anymore.
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