Hunting asteroids before they hunt earth

Thursday, March 26, 2009

On Oct. 5 at an observatory on Mount Lemmon in Arizona an astronomer noticed a comet headed this way. He sent the coordinates to the Minor Planet Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and, Timothy B. Spahr, director of the Minor Planet Center, swung into action. The asteroid was being affected by Earth's gravity and looked as if it was being pulled directly into Earth. A few calculations later and, sure enough, the asteroid was going to hit Earth. Luckily It was small enough to disintegrated in the atmosphere and sure enough it ended up raining down rocks on Sudan.

This morning, we talk with Dr. Spahr about the asteroid tracking system and a new article in Nature that reports on the composition of the asteroid, which landed in Sudan.

Want more? Of course you do! Here's a clip from the BBC's Averting Armageddon and some tips on avoiding asteroids:


Dr. Timothy Spahr


Sitara Nieves

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