posted on Dec, 22 2012 @ 05:39 AM
I never even heard of this asteroid before, but apparently, it was considered a slight risk to us in 2040, and has just been reduced to 0 on Torino
Scale, meaning there is zero chance of impact.
From official JPL release neo.jpl.nasa.gov...
NASA scientists have announced that new observations of 2011 AG5 show that this asteroid, once thought to have a worrisome potential to
threaten Earth, no longer poses a significant risk of impact. The orbital uncertainties of the 140m diameter near-Earth asteroid had previously
allowed a 0.2% chance of collision in Feb. 2040, leading to a call for more observations to better constrain the asteroid's future course.
Answering the call, University of Hawaii astronomers Dave Tholen, Richard Wainscoat and Marco Micheli used the Gemini 8-meter telescope at Mauna Kea,
Hawaii to successfully recover and observe the small and very faint asteroid on October 20, 21 and 27, 2012. After extensive astrometric analysis by
the team in Hawaii, all observations were then sent to the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
An analysis of the new data conducted by NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, shows that
the risk of collision in 2040 has been eliminated.
The asteroid is approximately 140 meters across. It is estimated that an impact would produce the equivalent of 100 megatons of TNT, roughly twice
that of the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated (Tsar Bomba). This is powerful enough to damage a region at least a hundred miles wide.
Now, although I haven't heard of this asteroid before, a search turns up a lot of articles on this potential threat and the need for more
observations and calculations. NASA themselves asked for help. This flies in the face of allegations that NASA and the government want to keep the
threat of impact secret to prevent mass panic or for whatever nefarious purposes. I know for the fact that all newly-discovered objects are made
public through the Minor Planet Center, and any astronomer with a decent telescope can participate in this science.