Monday, April 18, 2005

Mystery of Asteroid Orbit Baffles Experts

Asteroid Fly By Earth

By Peter Ranscombe
The Scotsman

     SCIENTISTS are warning they cannot predict where a giant asteroid will go after it passes close to the Earth.

     The huge ball of rock, labelled 2005 MN4, will pass within 25,000 miles of our planet on Friday, 13 April, 2029. The asteroid is large enough to flatten the state of Texas or part of Western Europe.

     After the near-miss, the Earth’s gravity may deflect the asteroid into a new orbit.

     Dr Benny Peiser, an anthropologist and asteroid hazard expert from Liverpool’s John Moore’s University, said: "In all likelihood it will produce an orbit that will not intercept the Earth, but we don’t know, and that’s the problem."

     Some experts, including former US astronaut Russell ‘Rusty’ Schweickart, are calling for the asteroid to be tagged with a radio transmitter, so scientists can monitor its movements more closely.


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