This area will cover relevant news of the threat to the planet from Near Earth Objects (NEOs) including concepts and designs for mitigation. All opinions are those of the author.

11 March 2009

Paper: Long term impact risk for (101955) 1999 RQ36

Arecibo Observatory radar image of 1999 RQ36, courtesy Arecibo Observatory and JPL.

"Long term impact risk for (101955) 1999 RQ36"
Andrea Milani1, Steven R. Chesley, Maria Eugenia Sansaturio, Fabrizio Bernardi, Giovanni B. Valsecchi, Oscar Arratia
20 January 2009

The potentially hazardous asteroid (101955) 1999 RQ36 has the possibility of collision with the Earth in the latter half of the 22nd century, well beyond the traditional 100-year time horizon for routine impact monitoring. The probabilities accumulate to a total impact probability of approximately 10−3, with a pair of closely related routes to impact in 2182 comprising more than half of the total. The analysis of impact possibilities so far in the future is strongly dependent on the action of the Yarkovsky effect, which raises new challenges in the careful assessment of longer term impact hazards. Even for asteroids with very precisely determined orbits, a future close approach to Earth can scatter the possible trajectories to the point that the problem becomes like that of a newly discovered asteroid with a weakly determined orbit. If the scattering takes place late enough so that the target plane uncertainty is dominated by Yarkovsky accelerations then the thermal properties of the asteroid, which are typically unknown, play a major role in the impact assessment. In contrast, if the strong planetary interaction takes place sooner, while the Yarkovsky dispersion is still relatively small compared to that derived from the measurements, then precise modeling of the nongravitational acceleration may be unnecessary.

Link: Paper (PDF)

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