Monday, November 7, 2011

CELESTIAL CONVERGENCE: Collision Course - Asteroid YU55?!

"The chances of a big one hitting the Earth are 100 percent, the key question is time frame," Dr Bruce Betts, from the Planetary Society.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)  recently announced that an asteroid measuring 400 meters in diameter will pass the Earth within the orbit of the moon on November 8th and/or 9th and that its closest approach point will be about 325,000 kilometers away (0.0022 Astronomical Unit (AU)). Asteroid 2005 YU55 is about 400 metres wide, the largest space rock ever identified that will come so close and there is really a great risk or possibility of a collision with our planet or the moon. To be truthful, the asteroid is classified as a potentially hazardous Near-Earth Object (NEO), because it will fly past the Earth, at 15 percent closer to the planet than the moon. The average distance from the Earth to the moon is about 384,000 kilometers. NASA is eagerly preparing for the asteroid’s approach with plans for a wide variety of radar, visual and infrared observations, including using the radar capabilities at its Deep Space Network facility in Goldstone, California, and the huge Arecibo dish in Puerto Rico. On Tuesday and Thursday of last week, they held two press conference to discuss the origins, orbital path and threat of the asteroid.

WATCH: Orbital path of Asteroid 2005 YU55.

In the following video presentation from Channel 7 / Seven Network in Australia, the origins, orbital path and the threat of the asteroid is discussed. The program also highlights the preparedness of NASA and the  usage of a wide variety of radar, visual and infrared observations, including using the radar capabilities at its Deep Space Network facility in Goldstone, California, and the huge Arecibo dish in Puerto Rico.
This Wednesday a 400-metre asteroid that goes by the name of 2005 YU55 will pass between the Earth and the moon in what experts describe a “near miss”. The size of an aircraft carrier, scientists from space agencies around the world are watching this close encounter as their concerns grow over another much bigger asteroid that’s headed our way. The biggest threat to Earth now is an asteroid called Apophis. In 2029 it will pass so close to Earth we’ll be able to see it with the naked eye. What worries astronomers most is Apophis passing through a small corridor in space called a key hole where Earth's gravity would change its orbit sending it on a collision course with us seven years later. "The chances of a big one hitting the Earth are 100 percent, the key question is time frame," Dr Bruce Betts, from the Planetary Society, tells Sunday Night. The clearest reminder of that danger is the imminent arrival of 2005 YU55. It will give NASA a rare and close insight that could shed new light on the objects. "There's no chance of it hitting Earth. It's an excellent opportunity for astronomers to get a good look at the object to generate a shape for this object," Don Yeomans, head of NASA’s JPL Spaceguard program, says.

Last month Yeomans and his team of asteroid trackers calculated there were nearly 20 thousand near Earth asteroids, some one kilometre in size. “An impact of a large asteroid has the capability of taking out our civilization and not many worries and threats can make that claim so it is worth some effort," he said. In the Catalina mountains north of Tuscon Arizona, Catalina Sky Survey's Ed Beshore tracks comets and asteroids for NASA using telescopes in the US and in Australia. He says it’s “entirely possible” for an asteroid to hit Earth and the worst case scenario is the situation where you could find one a day before it gets here. “Actually we did that we found an object in 2006 that we discovered and it actually hit the Earth the next day, fortunately it was only three metres in size, the size of a car, so it came in over the Sudan desert." Dr Tom Jones is a former NASA astronaut, he's urging experts to "learn to talk to each other" to avoid a doomsday asteroid. "We should have a book on the shelf that tells us procedures for deciding when to deflect an asteroid, how it's going to be done, how much it costs, what kind of space craft has to be built and then the world can then pull that plan off the shelf if it's necessary." "We can actually put our technology to use and stop a catasptrophe from happening in the future and it’s the only natural catastrophe that we know how to stop." Betts added: "One way of knocking an asteroid off its orbit and making it miss the Earth would be to slam into it with a hyper-velocity big space craft at tens kilometres a second." - Yahoo Australia.
WATCH: Seven Network's "YU55 Collision Course."

THE GREAT DELUGE: Thailand Flood Death Toll Passes 500!

Advancing pools of filthy water threatened Thailand's capital subway system Monday and surrounded the emergency headquarters set up to deal with flooding that has claimed more than 500 lives nationwide.

Bangkok Gov. Sukhumbhand Paribatra has ordered evacuations in 11 of Bangkok's 50 districts, and partial evacuations apply in seven more, as the huge runoff from monsoon-buffeted central Thailand seeps south through the metropolitan area to the sea. The evacuations are not mandatory, and most people are staying to protect homes and businesses. But the orders illustrate how far flooding has progressed into the city and how powerless the government has been to stop it. The latest district added to list Sunday was Chatuchak, home to a large public park and an outdoor shopping zone that is a major tourist attraction. The Chatuchak Weekend Market was open over the weekend but had fewer-than-normal vendors and customers, as floodwaters poured past the market's eastern edge. Chatuchak, just a few miles north of Bangkok's still-unaffected central business zone, also is home to the government's national emergency flood relief headquarters. It is housed in the Energy Ministry — a building now surrounded by water.

The relief headquarters moved several days ago out of Bangkok's Don Muang airport after it, too, was flooded. Relentless rainfall has pummeled vast swaths of Thailand since late July, swamping the country and killing 506 people, according to the latest government statistics. Most victims have drowned, while a handful died from flood-related electrocutions. No deaths have been reported in Bangkok. The nearby province of Ayutthaya, which has been submerged for more than one month, has the highest toll with 90 reported dead. Floodwaters have begun receding in some provinces north of the capital, and a major cleanup is planned in Ayutthaya this week. But the runoff has massed around Bangkok and completely submerged some of the city's outer neighborhoods. On Sunday, cars sloshed through a flooded road underneath Chatuchak's Mo Chit Skytrain station, the northernmost stop on the capital's elevated train system. Floodwaters also reached roads at three subway stops in northern Bangkok. Both mass transit networks are functioning normally, though some exits have been barricaded and closed. Also in Chatuchak, water has begun approaching a main road near the Mo Chit bus terminal, a major gateway to northern Thailand. The bus station and roads in the area remained open, traffic police chief Uthaiwan Kaewsa-ard said.

On Friday, workers completed a 3.7-mile flood wall made from massive, hastily assembled sandbags to divert some of the water flowing toward central Bangkok. But large amounts of water are already beyond that wall, and officials say that besides a network of canals and underground drainage tunnels, there are no more barriers preventing water from pushing south into the heart of the city. Over the past two decades, Bangkok's much enlarged and improved drainage system has increasingly been able to siphon off water during monsoon seasons with average rainfall. But amid Thailand's worst flooding since World War II, that system is facing its greatest test yet. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra says a plan to be put before the Cabinet on Tuesday would allocate 100 billion baht ($3.3 billion) for post-flood reconstruction. Yingluck's government has come under fire for failing to predict the threat to the capital. Residents also have been frustrated by widely different assessments of the flooding situation from the prime minister, Bangkok's governor and the country's top water experts and officials. - CBS News.
WATCH: Monumental crisis in Thailand.

WATCH: Outdoor market flooded in Thailand.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Chile Volcanoes Cause Major Concerns!

The Chilean authorities are keeping the alert notice on the south of the country due to the Hudson volcano's eruptive activity and also from the volcanic complex of Puyehue Cordon Caulle.

Two Chilean volcanoes were under alert status as Hudson volcano’s rumblings combined with those of Cordón Caulle, which has coated a large swath of neighboring Argentina in ash and disrupted air travel for months.Hudson spewed a column of steam and ash that soared more than 3 miles into the sky about 1,000 miles south of Chile’s capital, Santiago.

Officials evacuated 119 people from the immediate area around Hudson as snow melted by the volcano’s fresh internal warmth caused the Aysen River to overflow its banks. Hudson has erupted twice in the last 60 years. Its explosions in August 1991 dumped ash 18 inches deep downwind, killing an estimated 1.5 million sheep in adjacent areas of Argentina. -
Earth Week.
Although the Hudson, located in Aysen region, registers a minor eruption and the external signs tend to fall, there is no magma movement inside the massif, of a 1, 960 meters high and located about two thousand kilometers far from this capital. The director of the National Geology and Mining Service, Enrique Valdivieso, said that monitoring equipment installed, permit the control of what happens in and out of the volcano. We know how it is behaving, "he said. Yesterday Pilar Cuevas, mayor from Aysen said Monday they will decide whether or not the cessation of red alert for Hudson, whose last major eruption took place between Aug 8 and Dec 29, 1991.

The same applies to the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle with a flow volume of ash emission since last June and is checked by air navigation in cities of Argentina and Chile, relieved by periods depending on the direction of the wind. The main problem for the aircraft is not only visibility due to the ash presence in the air, but also the abrasive effect it has on the fuselage of the aircraft and engine overheating them that may come to a halt in midair. In fact, in the last week there were canceled several flights in southern Chile by the volcanic ash plume coming from the mentioned volcanic complex.

Jaime Valdenegro, director of the National Emergency Office in Los Rios' region, also confirmed that the day before there was an increase in the precipitation of particulate material, although the massif, about 2, 240 meters height, has also registered a minor level of eruption. The Puyehue-Cordon Caulle is located in the Andes, about 900 kilometers south of Santiago, between the regions of Los Rios and Los Lagos. Its previous eruption was in 1960, after the mega-quake of 9.5 degrees in Valdivia city, considered the greatest in the history of mankind. All along the Chilean Andes there are around 3, 000 volcanoes and 80 of them are active, of which, according to experts, half could erupt in the near future. Among the most explosive there are the Puyehue and the Hudson also the Chillan, Antuco, Villarrica, Llaima and Osorno, among others. The South American country has the 15 percent of all the active volcanoes in the world. - Prensa Latina.
WATCH: Steam cloud spews into the air from the Hudson volcano's recent eruption.

Here is the following analysis from the Weekly Volcano Report from the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program:

CERRO HUDSON Southern Chile 45.90°S, 72.97°W; summit elev. 1905 m
OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN reported three new craters at Cerro Hudson following increased seismicity that was detected during 25-26 October. At 1908 on 25 October an M 4.6 volcano-tectonic earthquake occurred at a depth of 19 km, followed by a seismic swarm starting at 2149. More than 100 events, with depths ranging from 15 to 25 km, were recorded through the next day; 12 of the events were M 3, and three events were M 4. Scientists aboard an overflight on 26 October observed a white plume with some ash content that rose 1.5 km and lahars in Rio Huemul, to the W. The Alert Level was raised to Level 5 - Red. A very low-frequency M 4.3 earthquake occurred that same day at a depth of 15 km.

Five earthquakes per hour were recorded between 1600 on 26 October and 1600 on 27 October. Most of the earthquakes were volcano-tectonic events with magnitudes lower that 3.6 and located W of the caldera at depths between 3 and 25 km. The earthquake hypocenters became shallower with time. The most significant event, a M 3.6, occurred at 0227 on 27 October and was located in the SW edge of the crater. Very low-frequency earthquakes possibly indicated magma movement.

SERNAGEOMIN staff aboard an overflight on 27 October observed three craters along the S, SE edge of the caldera, with diameters of 200, 300, and 500 m. Mostly white plumes rose above the two smaller craters. The larger, southern-most crater emitted a plume with a greater ash content that rose 5 km above the crater. Satellite imagery showed a plume drifting 12 km SE. In response to the raised Alert Level, ONEMI reported that 128 people were evacuated from areas within a 45-km radius of the volcano, defined as high-risk zone.

One earthquake per hour was recorded between 1600 on 27 October and 1600 on 28 October. The majority of the earthquakes were characterized as long-period with magnitudes less than 2.2. During an overflight on 28 October, scientists observed a gas plume with a very low ash content rise 3-4 km above the craters. Seismicity continued to decrease during 28-29 October. Scientists conducting an overflight noted that a gas plume with some ash rose 1 km above the craters and drifted 5-8 km NE. They also confirmed that a large lahar had traveled down the Rio Huemul and another branch of the river during the initial phase of the eruption. During another observation flight on 30 October, scientists saw plumes with minor ash rising 0.8 km from two of the three craters. ONEMI noted that the total number of evacuees had reached 140. On 31 October scientists observed gas plumes rising 0.5 km above the craters and drifting SE. On 1 November scientists observed an explosion and an accompanying ash plume that rose 1.5 km above the active craters. They also noted subsequent minor explosions and ash emissions.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Congo's Nyamuragira Volcano Erupts!

A spectacular fire show started last night when Nyamulagira volcano (also known as Nyamuragira) began an eruption that happens about every two years.

The eruption could be seen clearly from park headquarters - probably the best view you could ask for. It appears that the eruption is not happening on the volcano itself, but on the side and lower to the ground. We’ll fill you in on details once we have them.This is not the volcano that tourists hike to see the lava lake, but a far more active volcano just to the north. Most of the lava flows north into an area where no one lives, so it shouldn’t bring harm to people or wildlife as the flow is moving slowly. Eruptions like this one can go on for days, weeks, or even months, so we’ll update you on the status. - Gorilla CD.
Nyamuragira volcano in the DRCongo started to erupt last night as park rangers of the Virunga National Park report on facebook. Nyamuragira is a large shield volcano north of Nyiragongo volcano near Goma town and belongs to the Virunga National Park. Its eruptions produce curtains of fire and large lava flows, which normally are no harm to inhabited areas as the volcano is very remote. In recent years, it has been almost impossible to access due to the presence of armed guerrilla troops hiding in this area. - Volcano Discovery.

WATCH: Nyamuragira Volcano erupts.