PLEDGE NOW
A Near Miss: Fending Off Asteroids

A huge asteroid brushes by planet Earth Friday. Closer than our own satellites. We’ll look at our very close call, and asteroid defense.

This image provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech shows a simulation of asteroid 2012 DA14 approaching from the south as it passes through the Earth-moon system on Feb. 15, 2013. The 150-foot object will pass within 17,000 miles of the Earth. NASA scientists insist there is absolutely no chance of a collision as it passes. (AP/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech shows a simulation of asteroid 2012 DA14 approaching from the south as it passes through the Earth-moon system on Feb. 15, 2013. The 150-foot object will pass within 17,000 miles of the Earth. NASA scientists insist there is absolutely no chance of a collision as it passes. (AP/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Asteroid alert. And the first thing to say is, it’s not going to hit us.

Close, in astronomical terms. Very close. Closer than our own orbiting satellites. But the big chunk of rock hurtling by Earth tomorrow – big as a big high school gymnasium, big enough to take out a city if it hit – will pass 17,000 miles from Earth. A whisker in space terms.

The last time past it was a million and a half miles away. Asteroids can be lethal. Chicxulub took out the dinosaurs. Tunguska flattened Siberia. They may also be our path to the stars.

This hour, On Point: as a big one hurtles by, we’re looking at asteroids.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Edward Lu, former NASA astronaut and founder, chairman, and CEO of the B612 Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the Earth from Asteroids. (@astroedlu)

J. Kelly Beatty, senior contributing editor at Sky and Telescope magazine. (@nightskyguy)

From Tom’s Reading List

Slate (Phil Plait) “On Friday, Feb. 15, the Earth is going to get a very close shave by an asteroid. Called 2012 DA14, this 50 meter (160 foot) rock will pass just over 27,000 kilometers (17,000 miles) from the Earth’s surface. This is closer than our geosynchronous satellites, so this really is a close pass!”

Discovery News “The non-profit Space Data Association, which shares satellite-tracking information among its member organizations and companies, said it had looked at the asteroid’s projected flight path and determined none of the spacecraft monitored in its network would be impacted, chairman Ron Busch told Discovery News.”

MarketWatch “Scientists at Deep Space Industries have put a value on an asteroid set to buzz past Earth this week of $195 billion, according to a published report on Networkworld. The number comes from estimates of the value of any recoverable water on the asteroid — worth as much as $65 billion as fuel in space — plus the value of nickel, iron and other metals — worth as much as $130 billion as construction materials.”

NASA Video of DA14’s Close Call

Asteroid Gallery

How to Watch the Asteroid on Friday

Kelly Beatty’s Clay Center Observatory

NASA

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Jul 7, 2015
Supporters of the No vote celebrate after the results of the referendum in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, Sunday, July 5, 2015. Greeks overwhelmingly rejected creditors’ demands for more austerity in return for rescue loans in a critical referendum Sunday, backing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who insisted the vote would give him a stronger hand to reach a better deal.  (AP)

Greeks spoke and said no to the European ultimatum. Folly or bravery, these are uncharted waters for Europe and Greece.

Jul 7, 2015
Freddy Osborne, left, and teammate Nikolai Darken, second left, both from Fairfield, Conn., play a word against teammates Yanni Raymond, right, and Knox Daniel, second right, both from Charlottesville, Va., during the first round at the 2015 North American School SCRABBLE Championship at Hasbro headquarters in Pawtucket, R.I., Saturday, May 16, 2015.  (AP)

From the living room to world championships, Scrabble is fun—and fiercely competitive. We’ll dig in.

RECENT
SHOWS
Jul 6, 2015
A still from the upcoming documentary film, "Tough Love." (Courtesy PBS / The Filmmakers)

An intimate look at the foster care system from the perspective of two families struggling to reunite with their children.

 
Jul 6, 2015
President Barack Obama speaks during services honoring the life of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Friday, June 26, 2015, in Charleston, S.C., at the College of Charleston TD Arena. Pinckney was one of the nine people killed in the shooting at Emanuel AME Church last week in Charleston.  (AP)

How should we talk about faith and God in these uncertain times? We put that tough question—and more—to a roundtable of religious thinkers.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: July 3, 2015
Friday, Jul 3, 2015

We made a lot of last-minute programming changes these past few weeks, and you stuck around with us through it all. Thanks!

More »
2 Comments
 
Election 2016: Who Exactly Is Running For President?
Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015

Who is running for President, anyway? We attempt to help you figure it out.

More »
9 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: June 19, 2015
Friday, Jun 19, 2015

Why our broadcast changed in different markets this week, and a closer look at a puppet theatre vandalism in rural Norway. (Really).

More »
Comment