October 8th, 2009


NEO Miss

This is cool.

NASA Refines Asteroid Apophis' Path Toward Earth

PASADENA, Calif. -- Using updated information, NASA scientists have
recalculated the path of a large asteroid. The refined path indicates a
significantly reduced likelihood of a hazardous encounter with Earth in

The Apophis asteroid is approximately the size of two-and-a-half
fields. The new data were documented by near-Earth object scientists
Steve Chesley and Paul Chodas at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, Calif. They will present their updated findings at a meeting
the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences in
Puerto Rico on Oct. 8.

"Apophis has been one of those celestial bodies that has captured the
public's interest since it was discovered in 2004," said Chesley.
"Updated computational techniques and newly available data indicate the
probability of an Earth encounter on April 13, 2036, for Apophis has
dropped from one-in-45,000 to about four-in-a million."

A majority of the data that enabled the updated orbit of Apophis came
from observations Dave Tholen and collaborators at the University of
Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy in Manoa made. Tholen pored over
hundreds of previously unreleased images of the night sky made with the
University of Hawaii's 2.2-meter (88-inch) telescope, located near the
summit of Mauna Kea.

Tholen made improved measurements of the asteroid's position in the
images, enabling him to provide Chesley and Chodas with new data sets
more precise than previous measures for Apophis. Measurements from the
Steward Observatory's 2.3 meter (90-inch) Bok telescope on Kitt Peak in
Arizona and the Arecibo Observatory on the island of Puerto Rico also
were used in Chesley's calculations.

The information provided a more accurate glimpse of Apophis' orbit well
into the latter part of this century. Among the findings is another
encounter by the asteroid with Earth in 2068 with chance of impact
currently at approximately three-in-a-million. As with earlier orbital
estimates where Earth impacts in 2029 and 2036 could not initially be
ruled out due to the need for additional data, it is expected that the
2068 encounter will diminish in probability as more information about
Apophis is acquired.

Initially, Apophis was thought to have a 2.7 percent chance of impacting
Earth in 2029. Additional observations of the asteriod ruled out any
possibility of an impact in 2029. However, the asteroid is expected to
make a record-setting -- but harmless -- close approach to Earth on
Friday, April 13, 2029, when it comes no closer than 29,450 kilometers
(18,300 miles) above Earth's surface.

"The refined orbital determination further reinforces that Apophis is an
asteroid we can look to as an opportunity for exciting science and not
something that should be feared," said Don Yeomans, manager of the
Near-Earth Object Program Office at JPL. "The public can follow along as
we continue to study Apophis and other near-Earth objects by visiting us
on our AsteroidWatch Web site and by following us on the @AsteroidWatch
Twitter feed."

The science of predicting asteroid orbits is based on a physical model
the solar system which includes the gravitational influence of the sun,
moon, other planets and the three largest asteroids.

NASA detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth
both ground and space-based telescopes. The Near-Earth Object
Observations Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," discovers these
objects, characterizes a subset of them and plots their orbits to
determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program Office for NASA's Science
Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California
Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.,
operates the Arecibo Observatory under a cooperative agreement with the
National Science Foundation in Arlington, Va.

For more information about asteroids and near-Earth objects, visit:


For more information about NASA, visit:


The Effects of School Violence

I was disappointed to see this article about school violence -- not student against student, but a police office assaulting an unarmed student. Remember, the end does not justify the means: the means determine the end. Treating children and teens like criminals will teach them to become criminals. This is unproductive and wicked.

Henry Giroux | Painful Lessons in the Pedagogy of School Violence
Henry A. Giroux, Truthout: "On May 20, 2009, Marshawn Pitts, a 15-year-old African-American boy, who is also a special needs student, was walking down the corridor of the Academy for Learning High School in Dolton, Illinois. A police officer in the school noticed that the boy's shirt was not tucked in and started shouting and swearing at him. Pitts claims that he immediately started to tuck in his shirt, but it was too late. Within seconds, the police officer pushed him into the lockers, repeatedly punched him and then slammed him to the ground and pushed his face to the floor."