Moscow University’s robotic telescope has discovered a massive asteroid that could potentially hit Earth in the future. If such a collision happens, the explosion would be 1,000 more powerful the Chelyabinsk meteorite explosion in 2013.
An automatic telescope installed in Russia’s Caucasus Mountains, near the city of Kislovodsk, first spotted the newly discovered space rock, dubbed 2014 UR116. The asteroid is estimated to be 370 meters in diameter, which is bigger than the size of the notorious Apophis asteroid.
Once Russian astronomers saw the new space object, they passed the data to colleagues at the Minor Planet Center of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. That means many observatories around the world closely scrutinized 2014 UR116, which helped to calculate the object’s preliminary orbit.
2014 UR116’s orbit is fluctuating because it also passes close to Venus and Mars, and the gravitational pull of these planets can also influence the asteroid’s trajectory.
When a meteorite exploded in the skies above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013, the energy of the explosion was estimated to be equivalent to 300-500 kilotons of TNT. But the Chelyabinsk meteorite was relatively small, about 17 meters in diameter and it disintegrated with a blast at an altitude of over 20 kilometers.
The newly discovered 2014 UR116 is much bigger and its collision with our planet would be catastrophic, as its impact power would be 1,000 times stronger than of the Chelyabinsk meteorite, Scientific Russia journal pointed out.
But the good news is that the asteroid poses no threat to Earth for at least the next six years, Victor Shor, research associate at the Institute of Applied Astronomy told the Interfax news agency.
At the moment the closest part of 2014 UR116’s orbit is 4.5 million kilometers from Earth. But this will change, so scientists are going to have to keep an eye on 2014 UR116 for years to come.
The robotic telescope network that discovered 2014 UR116 is called MASTER. It belongs to Moscow State University and was created in close cooperation with Russian universities in Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Blagoveschensk, the Kislovodsk station of Pulkovo Observatory and help from the National University of San Juan, Argentina.
MASTER has already snagged two other potentially dangerous asteroids: 2013 SW24 and 2013 UG1, but they were smaller than 2014 UR116, ‘only’ 250 and 125 meters respectively.
The video showing the movement of 2014 UR116 is made up of a number of photos taken by the MASTER robotic telescope, with several minutes interval between each one.
Into the World of Doomsday Preppers with Author Tea Krulos
The End is near…right? For some, doomsday is right around the corner and they’re going to great lengths to be prepared.
Freelance journalist Tea Krulos prepping for doomsday
When Tea Krulos decides to write about a particular topic he finds fascinating, he gets out into the wilderness and immerses himself in it. Whether it’s breaking up a dangerous fight on the streets of Seattle with real life superhero Phoenix Jones for Heroes in the Night, or fending off aggressive wildlife while tracking Bigfoot with Monster Hunters, he takes a few risks to experience the curious inner workings of some obscure subcultures.
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to catch Tea at a local comic shop called Crimson Cowl (owned by superheroes The Watchman and Crimson Crusader) where he discussed his experiences while researching his new book Apocalypse Any Day Now. The danger may not have been immediately present this time as Tea packed up and bugged out into the world of doomsday preppers, but it seems as though the paranoia was palpable.
Tea’s journey took him from the luxury bunkers built in an abandoned missile silo beneath the surface of the Kansas prairie, into the woods with a group that teaches disaster preparedness and survival skills under the guise of a zombie apocalypse, and out into the desolate Mojave Desert for the post-apocalyptic party known as Wasteland Weekend.
If you’ve been following Cult of Weird on the cesspool that is social media for a while, you may have noticed one of my favorite pass times is to track the latest end-of-the-world predictions and take a show of hands the following day to see who survived.
So far we’ve all squeaked by unscathed.
Be it a Biblical Armageddon, natural disaster, nuclear war, or the FEMA camps of a police state as conspiracy theorists are fond of preaching, there are some who believe there is a constant looming threat to humanity. Something set to wipe out civilization as we know it. And they’ll be ready.
Who knows. Maybe the end is near.
Will you be prepared…when it’s time for the Mad Max-themed swimsuit contest?
Find out in Apocalypse Any Day Now by Tea Krulos. Available now.
Tea Krulos is also the organizer of the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, which is happening September 13-15, 2019.
This “Peeling” Tectonic Plate Could Cause Catastrophic Earthquakes
The edge of a tectonic plate, one of the massive shelves of crust that carry the continents and ocean’s floor, is splitting right down the middle.
Scientists started to study the plate, located off the coast of Portugal, after it caused an unexpected earthquake and tsunami in 1969. They now suspect that they’re witnessing the birth of a new subduction zone, according to National Geographic, which is the point at which two plates collide and grind against each other, causing powerful earthquakes.
Drop By Drop
University of Lisbon marine geologist João Duarte suspects the plate began to split down the middle after water leaked through a heavily-fractured upper layer. But Duarte’s work hasn’t yet gone through peer review or been accepted by an academic journal, so it’s possible that his origin story for new subduction zones won’t hold water.
“It’s one of the biggest unsolved problems in plate tectonics,” Duarte told NatGeo.
Closing The Gap
If Duarte’s research is correct and the plate beneath Portugal is splitting, then that would be the first step toward a shrunken Atlantic Ocean that brings the two together, leaving a trail of powerful earthquakes in its wake.
READ MORE: A tectonic plate may have peeled apart—and that could shrink the Atlantic Ocean [National Geographic]
Threat from an Earth-Altering Asteroid Strike is REAL, Warns NASA Chief
The NASA chief’s speech comes on the heels of the space agency’s announcement that it would conduct an asteroid impact simulation to identify critical aspects of disaster response in the event of such a cataclysmic scenario.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine took the stage of this year’s Planetary Defence Conference on Monday to issue a stark warning: people should be ready for a major threat from a killer asteroid that could collide with Earth if our planet is not better protected.
“We have to use our systems, use our capabilities to ultimately get a lot more data, and we have to do it faster. We know for a fact that the dinosaurs did not have a space programme. But we do, and we need to use it”, he said.
Bridenstine continued by saying that normally the idea of a giant interstellar object smashing into Earth is met with a “giggle factor”, but people should not have that false sense of security somehow imposed on them by a myriad of themed Hollywood blockbusters.
“We have to make sure that people understand that this is not about Hollywood, it’s not about the movies. This is about ultimately protecting the only planet we know, right now, to host life and that is the planet Earth”, the scientist added.
NASA’s chief made a reference to a 65-foot (20-metre) meteor that exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013, just 14 miles above the Earth’s surface.
The flaming meteorite crashed with a massive boom, blowing out windows, damaging thousands of buildings in the area and injuring about 1,500 people, mostly from broken glass.
“These events are not rare. They happen”, he maintained.
Last week, NASA announced that it had teamed up with international partners to perform a “tabletop exercise” on how to handle a hypothetical asteroid on a collision course with Earth.
“These exercises have really helped us in the planetary defence community to understand what our colleagues on the disaster management side need to know. This exercise will help us develop more effective communications with each other and with our governments”, NASA’s Planetary Defence Officer Lindley Johnson said.
Aside from the aforementioned plans, NASA is getting ready for its first spacecraft impact asteroid redirect mission, dubbed “Double Asteroid Redirection Test” (DART), which is set for June 2021.
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