I loved this story about a 13-year-old German boy who corrected a NASA calculation about the likelihood of an asteroid called Apophis hitting Earth. The correction means the odds of a massive collision with Earth have been slashed from 45,000/1 to 450/1. (And no, the correction was not discovering they had put a decimal point in the wrong place). Now I reckon that the first set of odds are still relatively short, but this kid has really painted a grim picture.
What did he do differently? According to the professor quoted in the ABC story, “The schoolboy has thought of something that would actually elude most people, and that’s the possibility of the asteroid Apophis when it makes its close path to the Earth, interacting with one of the Earth’s geostationary satellites.”
I know what you’re thinking – how could a couple of lonely old satellites make a difference, right?
I’m glad you asked. There was another story about the amount of space junk orbiting earth, and it turns out there is a LOT of it. There are more than 12,000 bits and pieces floating around Earth, including 1,147 pieces in geostationary orbit. Just a small oversight, leaving a ring of orbiting debris out of your calculations NASA.
Check out these awesome computer generated images below from the European Space Agency, showing all the space junk – who knew? Asides from a nerdy 13-year-old German kid I mean…