In case you were concerned, there are no large* asteroids, comets, or anything else of a cosmic origin on a destructive collision course with Earth in the foreseeable future – and that most certainly includes this coming September.
For some reason the internet cannot exist without some version of an eminent “doomsday impact” being publicized, usually on completely pseudoscientific websites and YouTube channels, and this year is no different. I won’t link to them here (because that’s just more support) but there are once again those who fervently claim that an asteroid or comet is headed towards our planet and will collide (or otherwise cause horrible things to happen) in the latter half of September 2015. This is just plain not true.
(Remember Comet Elenin? Despite claims, that was never a threat. And how about asteroid YU55? Same thing. And then there was that whole embarrassing 2012 thing… really, when will “they” just give up?)
Of course NASA is always accused of hiding information from the world, so recently an expert on such objects from JPL spoke up about it:
“There is no scientific basis – not one shred of evidence – that an asteroid or any other celestial object will impact Earth on those dates,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “In fact, not a single one of the known objects has any credible chance of hitting our planet over the next century.”
In fact the biggest impact chance by a large asteroid that we do know about won’t come for another 867 years – and even then it’s not for certain.
Chodas knows a thing or three about asteroids and other near-Earth objects too; he is a senior scientist at JPL, computing orbits for asteroids and comets for over 30 years. Chodas is also the principal architect of the core small body algorithms and software for propagating trajectories, determining orbits, and computing uncertainties, close approaches, impact probabilities and warning times.
In other words, it’s not likely that he wouldn’t know about something of devastating proportions headed our way (yet somehow internet kooks who TYPE IN ALL CAPS and ultimately want you to buy their books or DVDs would.)
Remember, just because something is posted online certainly doesn’t make it true; it’s always important to consider the sources. I prefer to get my astronomy news from actual astronomers and other professional, published, and peer-reviewed researchers… I suggest everyone do the same.
*Of course Earth gets hit by random space debris all the time, about 200 tons of it every day. But there are no large-scale NEO impact events in the near future that have been positively identified.
UPDATE: It’s now October 5 and there still hasn’t been any global catastrophe… I’d say we can safely call that impact myth BUSTED. (Also: I told you so, nyah nyah nyah.)
To be honest, even NASA admits it can’t track everything. While a doomsday impact is highly unlikely, it is certainly not an absolute in either case.
Only a Sith deals in absolutes.
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