Scientists revise asteroid warning
4th Nov 2000
By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse
Astronomers say reports that the Earth could be struck by a small asteroid in 2030 are wildly exaggerated. Less than a day after sounding the alert about asteroid 2000SG344, a revised analysis of the space rock's orbit shows it will in fact miss the Earth by about five million kilometres (three million miles). However, astronomers will continue to monitor the asteroid, which was picked up in September and thought to be 30 - 70 metres (100-230 feet) across. Some scientists have criticised the way the information was released to the media before it had been thoroughly confirmed.
Asteroid 2000SG344 is the first object to have a threat
rating of greater
Sky survey data
But after the announcement, astronomers began looking
at sky survey data to see if the object had been picked up but not recognised
'Premature and alarmist'
Because 2000SG344 is in a similar orbit to the Earth,
it has been suggested that it might be an old Saturn upper-stage rocket
of the type that was used in the early Apollo Moon missions. If it is
manmade and did strike Earth, the effects would be very local and limited.
Some scientists have criticised the IAU and Nasa for releasing warnings
about the asteroid only for those warnings to be rescinded less than
an emissary solution