Main picture: Upgrade path of the asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 15, 2013. Image credit: Olga Kruglov and Sandia Labs CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Given the scale of the space that will occur at just over the length of the moon from the earth on Halloween should be classified as near heaven -Miss. Headed our way – but, according to forecasts, Miss Earth roughly 500,000km – is 2015 TB145, a giant rock that is 28 times larger than the Chelyabinsk meteor that hit Russia in February 2013. Its proximity caused NASA class TB145 as “potentially dangerous. ”

No Warning

Constellation of Orion

Forget movies like Deep Impact and Armageddon – when, as an asteroid, even this large comes to Earth, astronomers get a little pre- notification. NASA Near-Earth objects observation (NEO) TB145 identified only a few weeks ago with the help of the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS-1) in Hawaii.

“It turns out that near-Earth asteroids fly in the world with some regularity, many times with less notice than we have in 2015 TB145,” said Dr. Nick Moskowitz, a planetary astronomer who examines and searches Near-Earth objects at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, USA. “For example, the object is 2015 TC25 was discovered on October 11 about two days before he flew to the Earth at a distance of about 100,000 kilometers, more than three times closer than the TB145.”

2015 TC25, however, was much smaller than the TB145, and is likely to burn in the atmosphere if it was on a collision course with Earth.

How serious would it be if TB145 crashed into Earth?

Tunguska meteor event

“The energy of such an impact would be equivalent to about 100 largest nuclear weapon ever detonated,” says Moskowitz. “It will definitely have a significant regional impact on the scale of a few hundred or even thousands of miles.”

The most famous asteroid so far occurred in Tunguska, a remote area of ​​Siberia in 1908. The impact is estimated to have been about 1000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb, and the shock wave devastated more than 800 square miles, cutting 80 million trees.

Events such as the Tunguska and Chelyabinsk meteor and rarely because the chances of an asteroid striking the Earth – if only urban area – the distance (Tunguska was so far away that its effects were not photographed until 1930). Nevertheless, a significant asteroid hitting the ocean can still be deadly. “The impact of this asteroid landing in the ocean, which would be likely, could lead to a significant tsunami,” says Moskowitz.

ESA Asteroid Impact Mission spacecraft

Just how big TB145?

This is a big asteroid, probably somewhere between 200-600 meters according to Moskowitz, although he points out that we know only the size after seeing conducted as it passes Earth about 125,500km / h. It astronomers measure the size of objects, large as TB145, as soon as they pass through can be unsettling, but the chances that the Earth is hit is actually very small.

“We do not get hit by objects in the size range very often, only once in 10,000 years,” says Moskowitz. “Space is big, there are a lot of things there, and we’d have to be extremely lucky to be hit by one of these objects.”

we are doing enough to find near-Earth objects?

Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program (NEO) says TB145 is the largest asteroid to sweep the Earth until August 2027 although it is only drawing something, it took until now – an asteroid called 1999 AN10 – and may well be other objects lurking there.

There is a lack of funding to NEO detection systems, and most use a small telescope 1-2 meters for scanning large areas of the sky again and again. The system of the next generation is essential, and that is exactly what the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) promises. 8.4-meter telescope with a 3,200-megapixel camera, from about 2023 LSST will scan the sky for faint NEOs from its location in a high-rise Cerro Pachon, Chile.

The 3 x 1.65 m and 2,800kg, camera LSST – now under construction – it is about the same size as a car, and the largest even built. The ability to take pictures of the night sky in six colors, from the near ultraviolet to the near infrared to, it reaches a stunning 3,200-megapixel (actually 3.2 gigapixel) resolution with mosaic 189 16-megapixel silicon detectors located on the 21 sections.

“Project LSST, will certainly accelerate our speed of detection,” says Moskowitz. “The good news is that we are getting very good at detecting objects such as TB145, so that any danger of a collision, these objects may be slowly eliminated.” Moskowitz believes that within a few decades, we will effectively be aware of all the TB145, as objects in the vicinity, and not have to worry about being hit single – and happy, the chances of hitting us at the same time a little.

Privatization asteroid hunting, mining …

ARKYD space telescope

NASA also eyeing the asteroids not as a potential threat, but as a possible stepping stones in the deep Space, with the support of a private company Planetary Resources. Why is private money involved? Asteroids are nearly endless supply of rare earth metals, that’s why. Planetary Resources – whose investors include Richard Branson and Google Larry Page and Eric Schmidt – want to use the space telescope ARKYD to detect asteroids approaching the Earth, which can be commercially mined

As seen in 2015 TB145

stargazers and amateur astronomers will enjoy this Halloween, but the TB145 will be difficult to observe. “Fans with a small telescope can observe the courtyard of the object as it passes,” says Moskowitz. More and closer than most asteroids passes, TB145 is extremely bright and can be seen in the eastern sky the night of October 31 – Halloween – about the Orion constellation. However, the Moon, TB145 will take place just behind, is only at the end of the total, so it is very bright – and you’ll need a minimum 4-inch telescope to stand any chance of spotting the asteroid

There are some great tips on aiming the telescope at TB145 here and this event will also be live on the Internet here. Meanwhile, NASA will display TB145 bouncing radio waves off asteroids, collecting radar echo in the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope in Puerto Rico and the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.