A dot in the sky, a rock in the hand
March 26, 2009 11:34 AM   Subscribe

A dot in the sky becomes a rock in the hand. An asteroid near miss (as opposed to the more recent near hit) is the first time an object first seen in space is brought back to the laboratory.

Technical and nontechnical papers at Nature, possibly behind a paywall.
posted by fantabulous timewaster (7 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The title came from the nontechnical Nature paper.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 11:43 AM on March 26, 2009

Tracking of the fireball's trajectory by US satellites showed that JPL accurately predicted the object's location within a few kilometres and a few seconds.

Even though I work with orbital data on an almost daily basis, I am continually amazed at how close they can get with this stuff. Out in geo (i.e. far away from the stupid, confusing atmosphere) they can often predict locations to within hundreds or even tens of meters. The geo belt is 40,000 km away and a typical satellite is about the size of a car and moving at around 5-10 km/s under the influence of many celestial bodies.
posted by DU at 12:11 PM on March 26, 2009

f t,

You have 'near miss' and 'near hit' switched. This is a great story. A scientist from Juba, Sudan is one of the authors. A guy I knew in high school wrote a story called "Juba!". I thought he had made the place up.
posted by lukemeister at 12:13 PM on March 26, 2009

You have 'near miss' and 'near hit' switched.

Quoth the late, great George Carlin: "A collision is a near-miss."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:34 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Pretty ballsy, I'd say. Anybody who's seen Empire can tell you that you don't just go off investigating meteorite strikes.
posted by JohnFredra at 12:46 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

A dot in the sky becomes a rock in the hand.

Did it then kill two birds in a bush?
posted by jquinby at 2:26 PM on March 26, 2009

the nature paper is fascinating. we really have all kinds of little sensors and detectors all over our little planet now, listening and monitoring all the time, and it's cool to see how they can be pieced together to reconstruct this kind of event. really cool.

also, re: combing the desert? "man, we ain't found shit!"
posted by sergeant sandwich at 3:48 PM on March 27, 2009

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