No, asteroid 2009 JF1 is not going to destroy the Earth (not even if it reaches our planet)


No, el asteroide 2009 JF1 no va a destruir la Tierra (ni aunque llegara a nuestro planeta)

Yesterday, Twitter was once again filled with messages about asteroid 2009 JF1which according to some media is on a collision course with our planetand that potentially could end life on earth (Except, perhaps, the tardigrades, which are the paradigm of survival). According to these publications and thousands of messages on social networks, it was NASA itself that had warned of this risk, and of course, if NASA says so… more or less the same thing that happened with 2011 ES4, yes.

To this, moreover, has been added the impact of a small meteor, between one and five meters in diameter, north of Iceland, which would become one of the starters of the main course, which is the impact of 2009 JF1 on May 6. If 2020 and 2021 were difficult years, it seems that 2022 has decided to up the ante, they raised, mostly in a humorous tone, many messages on networks. Others, however, were very concerned to learn that human beings have just under two months to live.

But it will not be for lack of time, since in reality this has been going on for months, which was when the alarm went off that NASA had warned about the impact of 2009 JF1. We’ve actually had a long, long time to prepare our meteor shelters, stock their pantries with all the groceries we might need for years, and personally I’d also recommend stocking up on Sudoku booklets and pens to have distractions for a long season.

The thing is, no, you don’t need to do any of that. When NASA reported a few months ago about 2009 JF1, because it is true that the US space agency has information about the asteroid in question, what it did was point out that lThe probability of impact of 2009 JF1 against our planet was 0.026%, that is, one in 3,800. And yes, it is true, due to its particular nature, its orbit can change, thus modifying the probabilities.

And the fact is that, indeed, over the months the information on the trajectory of 2009 JF1 has been corrected and, therefore, its probability of impact with the Earth. The last calculation of the same dates from February 7 of this year, and determines a hit probability of 7.4e-6. If you don’t want to calculate it, I’ll translate it for you, 0.00074%, one in 140,00099.99926% that the asteroid does not reach our planet, according to the data we can find in the sentry database from NASA.

Now… what if 2009 JF1 comes in bad faith, and despite how abysmally unlikely it is today, decides to target our planet? well to know we must pay attention to some of its aspects, such as its impact speed, its mass or its size. Let’s see what Sentry tells us about it:

  • Speed ​​of entry into the atmosphere: 26.39 kilometers per second.
  • Absolute magnitude: 27.7
  • Diameter: 10 meters.
  • Mass: 1.2e+6 kilograms.
  • Kinetic energy: 1.0e-1 megatons.

Yes effectively, its diameter is around 10 meters. 10 meters without counting the effects that it would have for the 2009 JF1 to enter our atmosphere. What would happen in such a case? Well, either in its entirety, or at least in large part, the asteroid would disintegrate when trying to cross the layers of the Earth’s atmosphere. The result? Something along the lines of what we can see in Bart’s Comet, episode 14 of the sixth season of The Simpsons.

So, in short, there is only one chance in 140,000 that 2009 JF1 will reach Earth on May 6. And, if it does, due to its small size, would most likely completely disintegrate in the process of entry. And even if it were to reach Earth and, furthermore, do so at the most appropriate angle of entry to lose the least possible mass, the effects of a fireball of that size would be far, far away from the extinction of human beings. As I have mentioned before, the one that collided yesterday in the north of Iceland with a size between one and five meters, has hardly had any effects. Do you think that one of 10 could be much worse?


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