Earth and the persistent asteroid

You may recall that around this past Christmas an asteroid named 2004 MN4 was briefly given the distinction of having the best odds of any known space rock to hit the Earth in 2029. Of course, as often is the case, additional computations and observations showed that while it would be a close call, the Earth would get through the encounter unscathed.

In announcing the Earth will be safe from that flyby, the scientists apparently left out some significant information — that the 2029 encounter with the Earth is going to affect the asteroid’s path so that there is a decent chance of it hitting us — a 1-in-10,000 chance — in April 2036. In fact, there are several scenarios between 2034 and 2065 in which the same asteroid has even BETTER odds of hitting the planet.

While scientists are still confident further observations will likely reduce the odds to zero, there is a problem…the rock is going to be mostly out of view from some point in 2006 through 2012.

Anyway, there is a story on about a former NASA astronaut who wants Congress to approve a space mission to monitor Asteroid 2004 MN4, which is “only” about 1,000 feet wide in diameter so it should “only” cause local or regional devastation…as opposed to the whole wiping-out-mankind-global-annihilation type of thing.

Astronaut Asks Congress to Investigate Threatening Asteroid