Nasa: Giant asteroid is not going to end world next month

The Biederman half of the comet Wolf-Biederman strike the Earth in a still from the 1998 movie Deep Impact.

The Biederman half of the comet Wolf-Biederman strike the Earth in a still from the 1998 movie Deep Impact.

Stand down, Bruce Willis.

America's space agency is debunking a rumour gone viral that a gigantic asteroid is on a collision course with earth, in a scenario right out of Hollywood blockbusters Deep Impact and Armageddon.

Nasa says in a statement that numerous blogs and web postings have erroneously reported that the asteroid will impact near Puerto Rico sometime between September 15 and 28, devastating the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States and Mexico, as well as Central and South America.

The asteroid will actually hit on October 13, the space agency says.

Just kidding. There actually is not giant space rock at all, Nasa says. 

"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, said in the statement

In fact, Nasa's Near-Earth Object Observations Program actually says there's no big asteroids or comets that could hit earth in the foreseeable future. All known "Potentially Hazardous Asteroids" have less than a 0.01 per cent chance of impacting the earth in the next 100 years.

Nasa says an international collaboration of scientists and astronomers do keep watch on the skies with their telescopes, and if there was anything big headed our way, Chodas and his colleagues would know about it.

"If there were any object large enough to do that type of destruction in September, we would have seen something of it by now," he said.

Now — tin foil hat time — we know what some of you may be thinking. If there was a huge asteroid heading our way, wouldn't that be just the kind of thing Nasa would deny? (As we saw in Deep Impact, where the E.LE. — "Extinction Level Event" — was only revealed thanks to the machinations of an investigative journalist?)

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We're feeling ya, folks. But consider this: As Nasa points out, "this isn't the first time a wild, unsubstantiated claim of a celestial object about to impact earth has been made, and unfortunately, it probably won't be the last. It seems to be a perennial favourite of the World Wide Web".

Nasa notes:

- Four years ago, there were rumours that the earth would end on 11 November 2011 — 11/11/11 — when the comet Elenin, Earth, Mars and were supposed to align. But Elenin broke up into a stream of small debris in space, and, obviously, we're still here.

- There was internet speculation that the world would end with an asteroid collision on December 21, 2012, when the Mayan calendar "reset", or rolled over into a new 5126-year cycle.

- Just this year, there was speculation that two asteroids, 2004 BL86 and 2014 YB35, were on dangerous near-earth trajectories. But their flybys in January and March came and went without incident, just as Nasa predicted.

"Again, there is no existing evidence that an asteroid or any other celestial object is on a trajectory that will impact Earth," Chodas emphasised. "In fact, not a single one of the known objects has any credible chance of hitting our planet over the next century."

The only thing that's coming is the "continuous and harmless infall of meteoroids, tiny asteroids that burn up in the atmosphere," Nasa says.

We suppose we'll just have to get on with it, then.

 - Stuff


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