In his budget for next year, President Obama will include $100 Million towards NASA "lasso-ing" a nearby asteroid, then exploring it. The money set aside will only cover the costs of planning the mission and identifying a correct asteroid (not too big, not too small), but the project has long been a goal for NASA administrators looking to learn more about how to mine (!) asteroids, as well as deflect them in case of a possible collision with Earth.
Between the meteor (meteorite? meteoroid? meteorologist?) explosion over Russia and a close-flying asteroid that doesn't respect personal space, it wasn't a particularly relaxing Friday for the planet Earth. Things got even weirder last night when Bay Area residents spotted a mysterious fireball streaking across the sky.
For much of today, the people of Earth have had their gaze transfixed on the most majestic vaulted ceiling of all: the sky. At around 9:20 a.m. Friday (local time), a giant fireball crashed into Russia. At around 2:20 p.m. EST, an asteroid did not come close to hitting Earth even though, in a deep, dark corner of their hearts, everyone was hoping it would because life can just be so exhausting sometimes.
All the scientists are quite confident that asteroid 2012 DA14 is going to miss us when it comes by at 2:25 Eastern time. It is not all going to come burning through our atmosphere with the force of umpty many hydrogen bombs, burying whole taxa in iridium and ash, reducing human civilization to a concentrated smear of silicon and copper for far-future sentient descendants of lobsters to mull over as they drill down into old rock, seeking whatever mineral resources the industries of the lobster-people will depend on. Definitely not. It is not even big enough accomplish that, really, even if it did hit us. The appointed minute will come and 2012 DA14 will almost certainly swing harmlessly past our planet, right under our communications satellites, and back out into the interplanetary void till its next pass.
Whoa! Something just hit Jupiter! The impact—which must have been huge to be visible on earth—was recorded by two different amateur astronomers, one in Australia and one in the Philippines. Was it... an alien vessel?? (No.)