Asteroid 2024 MK

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smitty
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Asteroid 2024 MK

Post by smitty » Fri Jun 28, 2024 11:38 am

I was dismayed to read yesterday (27 June 2024) that Asteroid 2024 MK, measuring between 120 and 260 meters, was first discovered on 16 June 2024, and that it will pass within 290,000 kilometers (180,000 miles) of earth on 29 June 2024. For publicly available details, please see: https://www.earth.com/news/two-large-as ... this-week/ .

How is it that the NASA-funded Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) failed to warn of this danger sooner? I hope that some accounting for this troubling early detection failure will be made publicly and widely available soon. Thanks!

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Chris Peterson
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Re: Asteroid 2024 MK

Post by Chris Peterson » Sun Jun 30, 2024 12:35 am

smitty wrote: Fri Jun 28, 2024 11:38 am I was dismayed to read yesterday (27 June 2024) that Asteroid 2024 MK, measuring between 120 and 260 meters, was first discovered on 16 June 2024, and that it will pass within 290,000 kilometers (180,000 miles) of earth on 29 June 2024. For publicly available details, please see: https://www.earth.com/news/two-large-as ... this-week/ .

How is it that the NASA-funded Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) failed to warn of this danger sooner? I hope that some accounting for this troubling early detection failure will be made publicly and widely available soon. Thanks!
Well, a two-week advance detection for an object of this size is right about what is expected for the system. The system is working as designed.
Chris

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Re: Asteroid 2024 MK

Post by smitty » Sun Jun 30, 2024 3:10 am

How much damage would Asteroid 2024 MK have caused if there had been a direct impact? How would it compare with the well known Tunguska Event, for example? Can we offer any informed speculation on that? Thanks.

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Chris Peterson
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Re: Asteroid 2024 MK

Post by Chris Peterson » Sun Jun 30, 2024 4:20 am

smitty wrote: Sun Jun 30, 2024 3:10 am How much damage would Asteroid 2024 MK have caused if there had been a direct impact? How would it compare with the well known Tunguska Event, for example? Can we offer any informed speculation on that? Thanks.
Depends on what it's made of and what kind of trajectory it enters on. Iron and steep and you have something like Meteor Crater in Arizona. Shallow and you might get a Tunguska repeat. Rubble pile stone and most could dissipate quite high up. But to a first order, we'd call an impactor like this a city-killer. No significant regional damage, no significant global effects.
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smitty
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Re: Asteroid 2024 MK

Post by smitty » Sun Jun 30, 2024 1:31 pm

Thanks, Chris; that's helpful. It's far from clear (to me at least) how the 13-day early warning (16 June - 29 June) might have been used had the asteroid been on a collision course with a heavily populated area. Are you aware of preexisting plans that might have been implemented? Can't help wondering. Thanks again.

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Re: Asteroid 2024 MK

Post by Chris Peterson » Sun Jun 30, 2024 1:35 pm

smitty wrote: Sun Jun 30, 2024 1:31 pm Thanks, Chris; that's helpful. It's far from clear (to me at least) how the 13-day early warning (16 June - 29 June) might have been used had the asteroid been on a collision course with a heavily populated area. Are you aware of preexisting plans that might have been implemented? Can't help wondering. Thanks again.
Well, the "LAS" of "ATLAS" is "Last Alert System". For objects which are discovered shortly before impact and can't be diverted. So the general strategy would be local evacuation and damage mitigation (like taping windows and making sure buildings are open to minimize pressure effects).
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Re: Asteroid 2024 MK

Post by smitty » Sun Jun 30, 2024 1:47 pm

Thanks, Chris. Let's hope we never need to use it. I forget the title of the film that dealt with this topic, but, as I recall, it struck me as being perhaps a bit too close to reality for comfort regarding the way people reacted to the situation.

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Chris Peterson
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Re: Asteroid 2024 MK

Post by Chris Peterson » Sun Jun 30, 2024 1:52 pm

smitty wrote: Sun Jun 30, 2024 1:47 pm Thanks, Chris. Let's hope we never need to use it. I forget the title of the film that dealt with this topic, but, as I recall, it struck me as being perhaps a bit too close to reality for comfort regarding the way people reacted to the situation.
Until we have a fully space-based detection system, there will be no way to detect all small (city-killer) asteroids enough in advance that deflection is a possibility.
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Re: Asteroid 2024 MK

Post by smitty » Sun Jun 30, 2024 1:58 pm

Thanks. Any information about a timetable (and/or funding) for such a space-based detection system?

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Re: Asteroid 2024 MK

Post by Chris Peterson » Sun Jun 30, 2024 2:08 pm

smitty wrote: Sun Jun 30, 2024 1:58 pm Thanks. Any information about a timetable (and/or funding) for such a space-based detection system?
The closest for now is ESA's NEOMIR, which is still in the early stages and not guaranteed to happen. And it's not a complete warning system, but more of a supplement to existing ones in that it should detect bodies coming from the direction of the Sun that cannot be seen from Earth's position.
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Re: Asteroid 2024 MK

Post by smitty » Sun Jun 30, 2024 2:33 pm

Thanks. Who are the folks in our government who should be promoting and lobbying for an improved early detection system? NASA? Homeland Security? Other? Sadly, in the press of more immediate alligators nipping at our leaders' ears, projects such as this too often get lost in the shuffle. It's only our survival at stake here, but from just one of many potential lethal threats. Strong advocates are needed to keep this early warning ball rolling. What actions can ordinary citizens take to help?

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Chris Peterson
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Re: Asteroid 2024 MK

Post by Chris Peterson » Sun Jun 30, 2024 2:38 pm

smitty wrote: Sun Jun 30, 2024 2:33 pm Thanks. Who are the folks in our government who should be promoting and lobbying for an improved early detection system? NASA? Homeland Security? Other? Sadly, in the press of more immediate alligators nipping at our leaders' ears, projects such as this too often get lost in the shuffle. It's only our survival at stake here, but from just one of many potential lethal threats. Strong advocates are needed to keep this early warning ball rolling. What actions can ordinary citizens take to help?
There are people advocating for such systems, but remote risks are seldom taken too seriously by those who make funding decisions. City-killers are not the problem. We'll be seeing far more destruction from climate change than we ever will from small asteroids. The existential risk comes from dinosaur-killers (kilometer scale comets) which happen every 100 million years or so. If such a comet comes from the direction of the Sun, on its first visit to the inner system, it's game over. Any chance of doing something about it would require a space-based detection system to provide enough time to make deflection a possibility.
Chris

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smitty
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Re: Asteroid 2024 MK

Post by smitty » Sun Jun 30, 2024 2:59 pm

Thanks, Chris. All helpful information. Puts us face-to-face with our vulnerability to factors far, far beyond our control, a reality few of us are comfortable accepting. Turns out maybe we're really not lords and masters of the universe after all. Reminds me of a favorite quote:

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." -- T. Roosevelt