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NEW PRECOVERY DATA REVEALS NO IMPACT THREAT IN 2030

From Benny J Peiser <b.j.peiser@livjm.ac.uk>

While the world's media outlets are still sending out sensationalist
headlines about the latest asteroid scare, new precovery data discovered
only hours after yesterday's alert has all but eliminated the 2030 impact
scenario pulished last night by the IAU and NASA. According to new
calculations undertaken by the NEODys team in Pisa this morning, the
unidentified object with the designation 2000SG344 will miss the Earth in
September 2030 by at least 3 million miles.

Taking into account new precovery data of the object taken by the Catalina
Sky Survey on 17 May 1999
(see http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/mpec/K00/K00V15.html), the NEODys team has
calculated that the 2030 impact scenario is no longer real (see
http://newton.dm.unipi.it/cgi-bin/neodys/neoibo?objects:2000SG344;main.)

As a result of the new data, there has been a dramatic improvement in
the orbital uncertainty. In fact, the nominal miss distance for this
object is now given as 0.0346 AU on 22 September 2000 (22.89 UT22.19).
What this means is that the object will come no closer to the Earth in
2030 than 3 million miles! In other words, the claim that this object may
hit the Earth in 2030 has now been completely ruled out - less than 34 hours
after the IAU and NASA decided to announce a "significant impact risk" to
the world.

As I stressed in my cautiounary editorial yesterday, it was extremely unwise
by the IAU and NASA to rely on the 1999 one-night stand data by the LINEAR
team. My warning that the IAU/NASA impact announcement was premature and
alarmist, and that, in all liklihood, officials of both organisations would
have to publicly retract it, has now materialised - and much faster than
even I expected. While this quick and unambiguous elimination of the
asteroid scare story comes as very welcome news, it is very depressing to
notice that neither the IAU nor NASA, who are responsible for this latest
debacle, have yet been willing to publicly retracted yesterday's impact
annoucement.

Benny J Peiser
Liverpool, 4 November 2000


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