A Record Close Shave: Asteroid 2020 VT4 Just Skimmed by Earth

Didn’t I say that it could happen at anytime and we might not even see it coming?

Well, last Friday the 13th (11/13/20),asteroid 2020 VT set a new record for the closest asteroid near-miss. It zipped past Earth at just 240 miles above our heads. For reference the ISS Space station orbits 250 miles up. Oh…and we discovered it after it passed.

Luckily 2020 VT is only about 20-30 feet in diameter so if it did fly into our atmosphere it likely would have just been a bright fireball in the sky as it burned up.

Keep your aluminum foil hats handy! The next one could be bigger and not miss!

If you want to read about and asteroid storm that does not miss, read ASTEROIDS – Bridge to Nowhere. This highly rated novel is available on Amazon for only $1.99

From Universe Today: Wow. A low-flying space rock set a record last Friday (appropriately, the 13th), when 2020 VT4 passed just under 400 kilometers (250 miles) over the Southern Pacific.

The asteroid was spotted by the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) survey at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 14th, just 15 hours after approach. This is not uncommon for fast-movers, especially asteroids that are coming at the Earth from our sunward blind-spot, like 2020 VT4.

The asteroid- 2020 VT4 is estimated to be 5-10 meters (16-32 feet) across, about the size of a small house. Earth juuust missed occupying the same space as the perihelion point for the asteroid, which occurred just 20 hours prior to Earth passage.

This sets a record for the closest documented non-meteoric asteroid pass versus the Earth. This record was already broken once this year, with the passage of asteroid 2020 QG 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) from the surface of the Earth on August 16th. A brilliant bolide was captured on video on the afternoon of August 10th, 1972, as it became a brilliant daytime fireball over the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming before skipping back out of the Earth’s atmosphere. Another recent record was set in October 2008, when astronomers spotted 4-meter (13 foot) asteroid 2008 TC3 19 hours prior to impact,and later recovered fragments in the Nubian Desert in northern Sudan two months later, making 2008 TC3 the first asteroid that was documented before and after impact.

Unfortunately, the close passage of asteroid 2020 VT4 seems to have gone unwitnessed; closest approach occurred at 17:20 Universal Time (UT) on Friday November 13th over the South Pacific near the Pitcairn Islands under daytime skies, and it followed the edge of the Earth’s shadow outbound. For context, the International Space Station also orbits 400 kilometers (250 miles) above the surface of the Earth, and is 109 meters (358 feet) from tip-to-tip… 2020 VT4 would have certainly been visible as a fast-moving +3 magnitude ‘star’ on its out-bound leg south of Tasmania in the pre-dawn sky, had any island-bound observer or early morning sailor happened to be watching.…

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3 Ways to Defeat Killer Asteroids

Matthew Cross outlines three ways to defeat killer asteroids to save Earth; Pound it, Push it, or Pull it.

In the novel ASTEROIDS – Bridge to Nowhere the characters attempt to use one of these methods to stop an Earth ending asteroid.

Read ASTEEROIDS to see how that works out for them!


If astronomers found a large asteroid headed towards Earth, could we defeat it before it smacked into our atmosphere, raining down fire and destruction?

Astronomers, physicists and engineers have been watching for “planet-killing” asteroids and other space bodies and making plans for decades. I just finished reading the Space column in my November/December issue of Popular Mechanics by Jennifer Leman, titled “Could a Cosmic Lasso Divert Extinction-Level Asteroids?”

It’s a good read and I recommend you check it out. In the meantime, I was thinking of the 3 basic ways to defeat an asteroid, which can be found in discussions with scientists and also in Sci Fi film and literature: pound it, push it, or pull it.

1) Pound it

That’s right, pound the asteroid with missiles, nukes, bombs, whatever! Throw everything we have at it. Blow it up! So simple and easy, a 5-year-old could figure it out.

That is possible, but a “blown up” giant asteroid can be as dangerous, sometimes more dangerous, than an intact one. Consider a Mack truck rushing towards you at 100 miles per hour. If it hits you, you’re a pancake. But if I disassemble that Mack truck into its thousands of metal and plastic pieces, put them on a cart, and shove them at you at 100 miles per hour, the pieces are just as dangerous as the fully assembled Mack truck.

The point is that “blowing up” an asteroid does not change the overall mass of ice and rock. Unless the explosion threw most of that mass off its course with Earth, it would still be a devastating blow for life on Earth whether the asteroid was one solid piece, hundreds of one-ton pieces, or even a massive cloud of dust. In fact, sometimes pieces are worse.

Here’s what Jennifer Leman says on this topic in her Popular Mechanics piece:

“It’s risky to Hulk-smash an Earth-bound, extinction-level asteroid, though. ‘In general, when we move an asteroid, we want to keep it in one piece,’ says planetary astronomer . . . Andrew Rivkin, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. The rock could break apart and create a wave of several smaller ‘city-killing’ asteroids instead.’ (This risk also applies to an Armageddon-style nuclear solution, we’re told–there are no plans to test a space nuke at this time.)”

Dust is also a problem.

According to killerasteroids.org, “to lead to a global catastrophe, an asteroid or comet only has to be big enough to launch large amounts of dust into the atmosphere. That leads to the abrupt change in climate that wipes out species.”

If an intact asteroid enters the atmosphere as one giant mass, hits the ground, and releases a giant cloud of dust, it’s bad.

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Is Young Blood a Fountain of Youth?

In the novel ASTEROIDS – Bridge to Nowhere, Colonel Cruikshank visits “The Spa” for special treatments. The colonels treatment involves a procedure known as parabiosis in which the blood of young boys is exchanged for his old blood. In the book, the process provides amazing results for old Colonel Cruikshank. He looks and feels years younger. His hair becomes fuller and his skin becomes supple. The process leaves his young subjects feeling drained and weak.

You’ll have to read the book to learn how the boy’s from the gymnasium get their revenge.

While the novel is fiction, the idea that young blood can rejuvenate ageing people is real.

In the early 2000s a group of scientists at Stanford University, California, revived a grisly procedure used in the 1950s known as parabiosis. They paired living mice, young with old, peeled back their skin and stitched together their sides so the two animals shared the same blood circulatory system. A month later, they found signs of rejuvenation in the muscles and livers of the old mice. The findings, published in 2005, turned the minds of scientists, entrepreneurs and the public to the potential of young blood to rejuvenate ageing people. By 2016, enough interest had grown to prompt a US-based startup called Ambrosia to start offering pricey infusions of young plasma – the cell-free component of blood. 

Meanwhile, a clutch of scientific startups are trying to discover the secrets of parabiosis and use them to tackle age-related disease. By identifying factors in plasma that change with age, they aim to create therapies that either supplement what’s beneficial in young blood or to inhibit what’s detrimental in old. One is even beginning to report early clinical trial results.

“There’s still a long way to go – blood is complicated,” says Aubrey de Grey, who leads the nonprofit Sens (strategies for engineered negligible senescence) Research Foundation. “But there are many excellent labs focused on this, so I am optimistic about progress.”

Source: The Guardian

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