Duck and Roll! Asteroid Coming!

An asteroid the size of the Rock of Gibraltar will graze past the Earth on April 19. At a distance of 1.1 million miles, there’s really no danger that it’ll hit us (so they say).

(This is not a picture of the actual Asteroid 2014-JO25; this is a random asteroid from the inter-verse.)

This reminds me that while the current White House administration (cough cough) has promised NASA funding to continue working on a mission to Mars, they’ve cut funding for the “Asteroid Redirect Mission.” According to the Huffington Post:

“That project would have included a robotic attempt to rendezvous with an asteroid, then collect and haul a giant boulder from it for future study by a manned crew. Part of this plan was also to redirect the asteroid’s trajectory away from any path that would bring it close to Earth.”

More here on asteroid capture and landing projects.

Asteroid Freddie Mercury

Asteroid 17473 was renamed Asteroid Freddie Mercury yesterday by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Freddie Mercury is 2.2 miles across and sails between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter at a speed of 12.5 miles per second. With a good telescope, it’s visible as a faint dot of light.

Asteroid Freddie Mercury

Asteroid Freddie Mercury

And if you listen very, very closely, you might hear this as it passes:

More here from the Guardian newspaper.

NASA Wants to Lasso an Asteroid, Tow it Home

This news last week, as reported in, among other publications, Florida Today:
Plans are in the works for astronauts to capture an asteroid, tow it into orbit around the Moon, and then visit it for an asteroid-walk.

Here’s an artist’s rendition of the lassoing procedure:

lassoing an asteroid

Which of course puts one (or at least me) in mind of this, from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life:

George Lassos the Moon