Sunday, October 21, 2012

Stance of NASA

NASA has released a collection of statements regarding Comet Elenin. In each case, the organization has downplayed the importance of the object and its potential impact on Earth. After the comet was destroyed in space, Don Yeomans of NASA said: “I cannot begin to guess why this little comet became such a big Internet sensation. The scientific reality is this modest-sized icy dirtball’s influence upon our planet is so incredibly minuscule that my subcompact automobile exerts a greater gravitational influence on earth than the comet ever would.”

The Destruction of Elenin

After Comet Elenin was discovered, many people expected the story to be mentioned in the mainstream U.S. media, but it wasn’t. This caused some to suspect that NASA was keeping secrets. The general significance of Comet Elenin was large. In the United States, NASA has a congressional mandate to catalogue all near-Earth objects that are at least 1 kilometer wide. The impact of such an object would be catastrophic to Earth. Studies show that the United States and China are most vulnerable areas to meteor strikes.

Meteors are generated when debris enters

Meteors are generated when debris enters and burns up in Earth’s atmosphere. Some astronomers have reported that meteor swarms correspond closely to the orbits of known comets. Meteor showers are not threatening to the Earth because the comet’s tail usually doesn’t hold large objects. On December 28, 2005, a potentially hazardous asteroid was discovered by Robert S. McMillan and named 2005 YU55. It is approximately 400 m (1,312 feet) in diameter and caused concern for NASA.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova is a short-period comet discovered in 1948. The comet has an elliptical orbit of 5.26 years and a nucleus estimated to be 0.5-1.6 kilometers in diameter. On August 15, 2011, Honda made a close approach of only 0.0600 AU (8,980,000 km; 5,580,000 mi) to Earth. On August 19, the same day that Comet Elenin was destroyed by a coronal mass ejection, Honda was studied by the Goldstone Deep Space Network. The network detected echoes from the nucleus of Honda and it became only the fifteenth comet in history to be detected by radar.

Hopi Blue Star

In early August of 2011, NASA decided to get a picture of Comet Elenin, so they rotated the STEREO-B spacecraft and photographed it. In the picture, the comet appears to be a deep blue color. The color has caused people to make comparisons between the object and the ancient Hopi Indian prophecy of the blue star. The legend states, “When the Blue Star Kachina makes its appearance in the heavens, the Fifth World will emerge.” The Maya also have stories of a dangerous blue star. The color of Elenin has caused Richard C Hoagland to suggest it is the Hopi Blue Star, a claim which has spawned a number of articles.

The Predictions

Since Comet Elenin was discovered, NASA was adamant in the fact that the comet would not come close enough to strike or harm the Earth in any way. People responded by using a collection of hypothetical scenarios for disaster. For example, if Elenin was to hit an asteroid while passing through the Main Asteroid Belt, it could have been thrown off its predicted trajectory and pushed toward an imminent crash with Earth. People began to fear the comet’s massive coma.

Deep Impact

One of the reasons Comet Elenin has received so much attention is that it holds similarities to the blockbuster movie Deep Impact (1998). For starters, in the movie, the comet is found by a teenage boy named Leo and referred to as Elle (extinction level event). In reality, it was discovered by a young Russian astronomer named Leonid Elenin, who was born in 1981 and 17-years-old when Deep Impact came out. It is a coincidence that a man named Elenin discovered a near-earth comet.