A GIANT asteroid barreling through space 20-times faster than the speed of sound will approach as close as the Moon just two days after it was first observed, NASA’s asteroid trackers have revealed.
The asteroid, dubbed by NASA Asteroid 2019 CS5, will fly by on a so-called “Earth Close Approach” this evening. NASA’s astronomers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, expect CS5 to approach around 7.08pm GMT (UTC). As the asteroid swings by, the space rock will surpass incredible speeds of more than 14,780mph or 6.61km per second. This means the asteroid will dash past our home planet nearly 20-times faster than the speed of sound.
When this happens, the space rock will approach Earth from a distance just 1.15-times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.
To make matters even more terrifying, the asteroid’s approach comes two days after it was first spotted barreling towards Earth.
Asteroid CS6 was first observed by NASA’s JPL on Wednesday, February 13, and as of Friday morning (February 15), was last tracked on February 14.
The JPL estimates CS5 measures somewhere between 59ft and 127.9ft (18m and 39m) in diameter.
In more Earthly terms, the asteroid is about 4.6-times as long as a London double-decker bus and 9.5-times longer than a Volkswagen Beetle car.
Even towards the lower end of the estimate, the space rock is believed to be about nine times as long as a Queen Size bed and about three times taller than an average giraffe.
Much smaller asteroids have pelted the Earth in the past, causing widespread chaos and destruction.
When an undetected asteroid struck Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, in 2013 it injured more than 1,000 people and damaged more than 7,000 buildings in a wide radius.
The so-called Chelyabinsk meteor measured no more than 65.6ft (20m) in diameter but scientists did not see it until it was too late.
At the time, NASA’s scientists dubbed the asteroid strike a “cosmic wake-up call” to the threat of dangerous asteroids lurking in the depths of space.
Very few of these bodies are potential hazards to Earth
Hundreds of tonnes of space debris and tiny meteorites slam into the Earth’s atmosphere on a daily basis but rarely does a genuine threat emerge.
However, thousands of so-called “Near Earth Objects” (NEOs) like Asteroid CS5 zip by the Earth nearly every day, missing the planet by cosmically irrelevant distances.
NEOs are all asteroids and comets which cross paths with the Earth’s orbit at some point in time, often coming dangerously close to our home world.
NASA explained: “Very few of these bodies are potential hazards to Earth, but the more we know and understand about them, the better prepared we will be to take appropriate measures if one is heading our way.
“Knowing the size, shape, mass, composition and structure of these objects will help determine the best way to divert a space rock found to be on an Earth-threatening path.”
Thankfully, Asteroid CS5 will swing by tonight without coming close enough to strike the planet.
At its closest, CS5 will approach Earth from a distance of around 0.00294 astronomical units (au) or 1.5 Lunar Distances (LD).
One astronomical distance is the average distance between the Earth and the Sun and is equal to roughly 93 million miles (149.6 million km).
Asteroid CS5 will cut this distance down drastically to just 273,290 miles (439,817km) tonight.
NASA said: “As they orbit the Sun, Near-Earth Objects can occasionally approach close to Earth.
“Note that a ‘close’ passage astronomically can be very far away in human terms: millions or even tens of millions of kilometres.”
THREE asteroids measuring between 14ft and 232.9ft (4.3m to 71m) in diameter will shoot past the Earth at breakneck speeds, NASA’s asteroid trackers have revealed.
The three asteroids are on orbital trajectories known as “Earth Close Approaches”. The first of the three asteroids, so-called Asteroid 2019 CY2, already zipped past the planet just after 3.30am GMT (UTC). NASA predicts the next two space rocks, Asteroid 2019 CG4 and Asteroid 2017 PV25, will flyby shortly after, around noon and 1pm GMT later today. The space agency’s Astronomers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have narrowed the passages down to 11.55am GMT and 12.43pm GMT respectively.
Asteroid CY2 is the fastest of the three asteroids, swinging past the planet at breakneck speeds of around 29,415mph or 13.15km per second.
Thankfully, the asteroid did not hit our home world despite making an incredibly close approach.
At its closest, NASA estimates the rock came within 1.9 million miles (3.07 million km) of striking Earth.
This is the equivalent of eight times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.
NASA's initial size estimates show Asteroid CY2 measures somewhere in the range of 39.4ft to 85.3ft (12m to 26m) in diameter.
Asteroid CG4, which will zip by just before noon, is the smallest of the asteroids and would pose a minimal amount of danger if it were on a direct collision course with Earth.
At its closest, CG4 will approach Earth from 0.00459 astronomical units (au) or 426,667 miles (686,654km).
Astronomical units are used to define the average distance from the Earth to the Sun – about 93 million miles (149.6 million km).
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The percentage of tropical systems that have intensified rapidly in the Atlantic Ocean has tripled over the last three decades, according to a study published Thursday in Nature Communications, a scientific research journal.
Storms that quickly strengthen are often the most challenging to predict. They're also more likely to become major hurricanes and can cause more damage.
This concerns the lead author of the study, Kieran Bhatia.
"One of the worst-case scenarios associated with tropical cyclones is when a weak storm unexpectedly intensifies into a major hurricane (wind speeds greater than 109 mph) hours before landfall," Bhatia said. "In these situations, communities do not have adequate notice to evacuate and prepare for hazards, which leads to high mortality rates and financial losses."
One storm that recently burst into a powerhouse was Hurricane Michael, which slammed into the Florida Panhandle in October. In the 24 hours leading up to its landfall, Michael's winds jumped 45 mph -- taking the storm from a strong category 2 to a devastating high-end category 4 with winds of 155 mph. The spike resulted in many people being underprepared and the storm caused $25 billion in damage, making it the year's costliest disaster in the country.
Hurricane Maria underwent even fiercer rapid intensification in 2017, spiking 80 mph as it beared down on Puerto Rico.
A boat sits amidst debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018.GERALD HERBERT / APThe Nature study was conducted by a who's who of experts in hurricane research, including Gabriel Vecchi of Princeton University and Thomas Knutson and James Kossin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to name a few. The researchers' initial study did not include recent hurricanes like Maria, Michael, Harvey, Irma and Florence due to lack of updated data sets. But "the trend becomes even more robust with this added data" Bhatia said.
The team first conducted an in-depth analysis into two independent observation data sets to see if there has been a trend in rapid intensification during the 1982-2009 time period. In both data sets they found that the "highest intensity changes are becoming more likely" -- a trend of 3 to 5 mph more per decade.
Since 1995, the Atlantic has entered that warmer phase of a natural 20-40-year cycle called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). As a result, hurricane frequency and intensity has gone up. To help determine if the boost in rapid intensification was due to natural cycles like the AMO or human-caused warming, researchers used a state-of-the-art high resolution climate model called HiFLOR. The team compared an 1860 world without man-made greenhouse gas warming with more recent years in which greenhouse gas warming has increased.
The research concludes that the rapid intensification increase discovered in both of the data sets "is outside HiFLOR's estimate of expected internal climate variability, which suggests the model's depiction of climate oscillations like the AMO cannot explain the observed trend."
"The results certainly infer, perhaps strongly infer, a human fingerprint on the increase in rapid intensification events," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Kossin said.
This makes sense. Warmer water adds more high-octane fuel to hurricanes. Right now the oceans are warming because of excess greenhouse gases, thus hurricanes can intensify more rapidly.
But the researches are quick to urge caution on putting too much weight on the human connection. That's because the reliable data sets used in the study are limited to less than 30 years. Also, the team's ability to separate the natural climate cycle from what humans are causing hinges on the reliability of the one climate model used in the study.
The NOAA's Knutson urges further probing. "Further analysis with additional high-resolution climate models and a longer and more reliable observational record is required to confirm these conclusions," he said.
A YELLOWSTONE volcano eruption in the northwest corner of the US could trigger a deadly chain of eruptions and aftershocks tens of thousands of years after the first blast, a shocking study has found.
“It is the magmatic equivalent to aftershocks following an earthquake.”
When Toba last reared its ugly head, the volcano released 28,000-times more magma than the 1980 eruption on Mount St Helens in the US.
The resulting volcanic winter is believed to have lasted for years and scientists speculate it placed a bottleneck on human evolution.
Worse yet, supervolcanoes like Yellowstone and Toba have incredibly long lifespans – far longer than humanity has been on the planet.
READ MORE: Yellowstone volcano ERUPTIONS are 'more frequent than previously thought'
National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) scientists have updated the world magnetic model (WMM) mid-cycle, as Earth’s northern magnetic pole has begun shifting quickly away from the Canadian Arctic and toward Siberia, an NCEI report said this week. The new WMM more accurately represents the change of the magnetic field since 2015. The alteration could have an impact on government, industry, and consumer electronics.
“Due to unplanned variations in the Arctic region, scientists have released a new model to more accurately represent the change of the magnetic field,” the report said, noting that updated versions of the WMM are typically released every 5 years. This update comes about 1 year early.
“This out-of-cycle update before next year’s official release of WMM 2020 will ensure safe navigation for military applications, commercial airlines, search and rescue operations, and others operating around the North Pole,” said NCEI, which is part of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “Organizations such as NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, US Forest Service, and many more use this technology. The military uses the WMM for undersea and aircraft navigation, parachute deployment, and more.”
A massive hole two-thirds the size of Manhattan is growing at the bottom of an Antarctic glacier and has NASA scientists disturbed about the potential for rapid melting and decay.
The huge cavity – which is approximately 1,000 feet tall, about as tall as New York City's Chrysler Building – is growing at the bottom of the Thwaites Glacier and is large enough to have once contained 14 billion tons of ice, according to NASA. Most of that ice melted over the last three years.
"We have suspected for years that Thwaites was not tightly attached to the bedrock beneath it," Eric Rignot of the University of California, Irvine, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a NASA post. Rignot is a co-author of the new study, which was published in Science Advances. "Thanks to a new generation of satellites, we can finally see the detail," he said.