Mega-dangerous asteroid called ‘God of Chaos’ is headed toward Earth

apophis forecast

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apophis forecast

  • The massive space rock known as Apophis will pass by Earth several times in the upcoming decades.
  • A collision with Earth has been ruled out for most of them, but one pass is still giving astronomers a reason to be nervous.
  • When the rock approaches Earth in 2068 there’s a very slim chance it might hit us.

There are so many space rocks cruising around our Solar System that it’s hard to keep track of them, at least for those of us who don’t do it on a daily basis, but you’ve probably heard of the massive asteroid known as Apophis before. Apophis, also known as the “God of Chaos,” is an interesting object for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that astronomers haven’t been able to rule out the possibility that the rock may actually slam into Earth in the not-so-distant future.

As Gizmodo reports, the back-and-forth regarding the possibility that Apophis might hit Earth in 48 years’ time has been quite a rollercoaster. At one point it seemed clear that the asteroid wouldn’t pose a threat, but new research suggests there’s still a slim chance it might actually hit Earth.



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So, how did the forecast change? The researchers involved in the new study took into account a phenomenon called the Yarkovsky effect. It’s the ability of asteroids to actually speed up as they cruise through space. This is because asteroids like Apophis aren’t just dead chunks of rock, but contain different materials that can actually propel the rock. Radioactive material, for example, can seep out of the rock and give it a very slight “boost,” which can be enough to take it on a slightly different path and pose a danger to us or other planets.,

“Without taking Yarkovsky drift into account, Apophis is still a threatening object, just not in 2068,” Dave Tholen, co-author of the new work told Gizmodo in a statement. “With Yarkovsky taken into account, the 2068 impact scenario is still in play. Small, but non-zero.”

A non-zero chance sounds spooky, but it’s still a very, very small possibility. Percentage-wise, it’s roughly a 0.00067% chance that the asteroid could impact Earth. However, if the rock is incredibly lucky and humanity is incredibly unlucky, a collision would be devastating. Measuring over 300 meters across and packed with metal, the asteroid would cause an incredible amount of damage if it impacted Earth. The asteroid will make a couple of more distant passes of Earth before 2068, and the possibility of an impact during those passes have been ruled out, but not for 2068.

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Are the Great Plains Headed for Another Dust Bowl? | Smart News

A new study shows dust storms have become more common and more severe on the Great Plains, leading some to wonder if the United States is headed for another Dust Bowl, reports Roland Pease for Science. With nearly half the country currently in drought and a winter forecast predicting continued dry weather for many of the afflicted regions, dust storms could become an even bigger threat.

In the 1930s, the Dust Bowl was caused by years of severe drought and featured dust storms up to 1,000 miles long. But the other driving force behind the plumes of dust that ravaged the landscape was the conversion of prairie to agricultural fields on a massive scale—between 1925 and the early 1930s, farmers converted 5.2 million acres of grassland over to farming, reported Sarah Zielinski for Smithsonian magazine in 2012.

Hardy prairie grasses would have likely withstood the drought, but crops covering the newly converted tracts swiftly bit the proverbial dust, which loosened the grip their roots had on the soil. High winds then whipped that loose soil into the huge clouds that blanketed the landscape with dust, including 1935’s Black Sunday which lifted 300,000 tons of the stuff skyward.

Besides blotting out the sun, dust storms strip valuable nutrients from the soils, making the land less productive, and create a significant health hazard at a time when a respiratory illness is sickening people around the world, according to Science.

dust graphic
A graphic representing the hazards of increasing atmospheric dust.

(Talie Lambert)

The new research, published earlier this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, used data from NASA satellites and ground monitoring systems to detect a steady increase in the amount of dust being kicked into the atmosphere every year, reports Brooks Hays for United Press International. The researchers found that levels of atmospheric dust swirling above the Great Plains region doubled between 2000 and 2018.

According to the paper, the increasing levels of dust, up to five percent per year, coincided with worsening climate change and a five to ten percent expansion of farmland across the Great Plains that mirrors the prelude to the Dust Bowl. Together, the researchers suggest these factors may drive the U.S. toward a second Dust Bowl.

“We can’t make changes to the earth surface without some kind of consequence just as we can’t burn fossil fuels without consequences,” says Andrew Lambert, a meteorologist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and the paper’s first author, in a statement. “So while the agriculture industry is absolutely important, we need to think more carefully about where and how we plant.”

Part of what allowed Lambert and his colleagues to tie the added dust in the sky to agriculture were clear regional upticks when and where major crops such as corn and soybeans were planted and harvested, per the statement. Ironically, much of the grassland that was converted to agriculture in recent years was not for food but for corn destined to become fodder for biofuels intended to

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49ers Garoppolo headed back to where his career got off to a perfect start

George Kittle was asked Thursday about his memories of the two starts quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo made for the Patriots in 2016 when Tom Brady was suspended.

The 49ers tight end began by trying to answer the question earnestly, but he soon was unsuccessfully trying to stifle his laughter.

“He went undefeated, right?” Kittle said before chuckling at his good friend’s past misfortune: “I’m not going to lie, I think the only thing I remember is him getting hurt because he fell on his shoulder. So I want to eliminate those bad vibes.”

Indeed, Garoppolo, after throwing three touchdown passes, was sidelined late in the second quarter of New England’s 31-24 win over the Dolphins on Sept. 18, 2016.

Who: 49ers (3-3) at New England (2-3)

When: 1:25 p.m.

TV/Radio: Channel: 5Channel: 13Channel: 46/680, 107.7

That was the only start he’s made at Gillette Stadium.

The second will come Sunday when Garoppolo faces the legendary coach who drafted him in the second round in 2014 and reluctantly traded him to the 49ers for a second-round pick three years later because owner Bob Kraft wasn’t about to part with Brady, who was then 40.

New England’s Bill Belichick, who has remained in contact with Garoppolo since the deal, drafted him to serve as Brady’s eventual heir apparent. Instead, he’ll face Garoppolo as an opponent.

“I think we all know Jimmy’s a quality player and can do all the things that a good quarterback needs to do,” Belichick said to the New England media Tuesday. “He led the 49ers to the NFC Championship last year … So I don’t think there’s any question about his skill level and what he’s been able to accomplish and what their team’s been able to accomplish. We’ll be ready for his best. I’m sure we’ll get it.”

And Garoppolo can expect the same from the defensive-minded Belichick, 68, who won two Super Bowls as the Giants defensive coordinator before winning a record six as a head coach.

Belichick, of course, knows Garoppolo well. And the same could be said of Miami’s Brian Flores, another defensive-minded head coach who was a Patriots assistant throughout Garoppolo’s three-plus seasons in New England.

It’s perhaps notable that Garoppolo is not far removed from a disastrous performance against a defense overseen by Flores and coordinator Josh Boyer, a Patriots assistant from 2006-2018. Garoppolo threw two interceptions and posted a career-worst 15.7 passer rating before he was replaced at halftime of a 43-17 loss to the Dolphins on Oct. 11.

On Thursday, that substandard start — and the coaching staff’s familiarity with him — was mentioned to Garoppolo. That is, will he face a similar fate Sunday?

Garoppolo pushed back on the idea Flores and Boyer had his number. He noted he played against Miami when he was still feeling the effects of a high ankle sprain he’d suffered three weeks earlier.

“Well, my ankle is feeling a lot better than it was in the Miami week,”

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4 Tiny Asteroids Headed Towards Earth, Will Zip By On Wednesday


  • Four asteroids will be making their way past Earth on Wednesday
  • The biggest one has a diameter of 111ft.
  • Only 2020 UY is currently in ESA Risk List

A total of four asteroids are expected to make their close approaches with Earth Wednesday and all of them have been included in the European Space Agency’s Priority List.

Four tiny asteroids will be zipping past the planet, data from NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) revealed. First in line is 2020 UY, which will make its close approach at 12:24 a.m. EDT. It will fly past the planet at a distance of 217,000 miles from its surface.

This 31-foot Near-Earth Asteroid is about half as long as a cricket pitch and is expected to fly by at a speed of 4mps, according to CNEOS’ Close Approach Data Table. The said NEA is also included in ESA’s Risk List and its Priority List, and is expected to have its next Earth close approach on Nov. 21, 2027.

Following closely will be 2020 US. This NEA will make its flyby at 2:35 a.m. EDT. at a distance of 506,000 miles from the planet. It has a diameter of 69 ft. and will only make its next close contact with Earth after 53 years, in 2073. The said NEA is currently not included in the ESA’s Risk List.

Once daylight breaks, 2020 TM6 is then set to zip by Earth at a distance of 2,000,000 miles. Considered to be the largest of the bunch, 2020 TM6 has a diameter of 111 ft. This NEA, as well as the first two asteroids, is classified as an Apollo asteroid due to its Earth-crossing orbit. This means that at a certain point, its orbit intersects with the Earth’s, thus making close contacts with the planet more likely to happen. Fortunately, 2020 TM6 hasn’t been included in the ESA Risk List.

Capping off the day’s asteroid flyby would be 2018 VG, an asteroid discovered two years ago. The 65-foot NEA will be making its way past the planet more than 3,000,000 miles away. A London double-decker bus, which measures 28 feet, would have to fall in line two and a half times to get a picture of 2018 VG’s diameter. At 11:41 a.m. EDT, this NEA will be zipping by at a speed of 4 mps.

An artistic rendition of Osiris-Rex approaching the asteroid Bennu An artistic rendition of Osiris-Rex approaching the asteroid Bennu Photo: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University / Handout

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With Frank Ragnow still banged up, Lions’ Joe Dahl could be headed for first career start at center

ALLEN PARK — Injuries to Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Joe Dahl have forced the Detroit Lions to roll with three different offensive line combinations in the first four games of the season. Now an injury to center Frank Ragnow could force them into a fourth different lineup on Sunday when they travel to Jacksonville for a matchup with the Jaguars.

Ragnow has been excellent since the Lions moved him to center last year. He hasn’t allowed so much as a QB hit this season and is the second-ranked run blocker at the position according to ProFootballFocus. But he tweaked his groin in Detroit’s return from the bye on Wednesday, did not practice on Thursday and did very little during the 15 minutes of practice that were open to reporters on Friday afternoon.

Rookie Logan Stenberg is Ragnow’s listed replacement on the depth chart, but it’s unlikely he would actually play the position except in an emergency. Stenberg struggled at center throughout camp and has spent most of the season repping at guard, the position he played back at Kentucky. And by all appearances, he doesn’t seem to be close to playing that position either.

Instead, Dahl seems like the likeliest candidate to get the call if Ragnow can’t go in Jacksonville. He remains on injured reserve with the groin injury he sustained in practice after the opener, but returned to the field this week and is Detroit’s preferred backup if he’s healthy enough to go. He’s never actually played the position in the NFL before, but has practiced there over the years and earned the coaches’ trust with some solid play at left guard over the last year-plus.

Cornerback Desmond Trufant still isn’t practicing on defense, which means rookie Jeff Okudah is expected to make another start alongside Amani Oruwariye.

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