Shockingly a massive 1.2 mile diameter asteroid named (89959) 2002 NT7 was in fact assigned a positive impact rating on the Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale, meaning that the object will likely strike earth on some future date.
In fact a press release written by Don Yeomans of NASA, published July 24, 2002, concluded the object’s “low-probability of earth impact in 2019.”
To make matters worse Yeomans also determined that (89959) 2002 NT7 is such a new discovery that “the limited number of observations available do not allow its trajectory to be tightly constrained and the object’s very uncertain future motion often allows a very low probability of an Earth impact at some future date. Just such a low probability impact has been identified for February 1, 2019 and a few subsequent dates.”
Needless to say the press release caused waves that rippled throughout the general populace before being squashed some 4 days later by NASA’s Don Yeomans in a new release titled Asteroid 2002 NT7: Potential Earth Impact In 2019 Ruled Out. In the piece Yeomans wrote:
With the processing of a few more observations of asteroid 2002 NT7 through July 28, we can now rule out any Earth impact possibilities for February 1, 2019. While we cannot yet completely rule out an impact possibility on February 1, 2060, it seems very likely that this possibility will be soon ruled out as well as additional positional observations are processed. Because the SENTRY system tracks a multitude of test particles in an effort to map the uncertainties of the asteroid’s future positions, some of these test particles can take slightly different dynamical paths. Hence there are currently two entries for 2060 in our IMPACT RISK table. The entry with the higher risk (larger Palermo Technical Scale) would be the value that would then take precedence.
Now, due NASA’s quick readjustment in their statement, some, like Youtuber Tony Hicks, have been left more concerned that such an object actually has the potential to strike earth.
The BBC reported, “Researchers estimate that on 1 February, 2019, its impact velocity on the Earth would be 28 km a second – enough to wipe out a continent and cause global climate changes.”
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