Published On: Tue, Aug 27th, 2019

Asteroid news: NASA warning over end of August space rock impact – latest updates | Science | News

The dual space rocks came closest on August 26, with the first asteroid travelling at a speed of 13,000mph and just behind it trails a slightly smaller rock, travelling at 18,800mph. NASA’s team at the Planetary Defence Coordination Office (PDCO), who some may consider Earth’s mightiest heroes, are tracking the near Earth objects. This agency was established to manage the ongoing mission of planetary defence against near Earth objects.

It provides early detection of potentially hazardous objects (PHOs), the subset of NEOs whose orbits predict they will come within five million miles of Earth’s orbit.

The PDCO also plays a lead role in coordinating US government planning for response to an actual impact threat.

At least three potentially hazardous asteroids are expected to fly past Earth this month.

The biggest threat is an asteroid the size of the Washington Monument, named 2019 OU1.

2019 OU1 is estimated to pass 28 Aug, the rock will fly by less than a million miles away at 29,000mph, a hair’s breadth in astronomical terms.

News of these asteroids have been trending on social media and in major news publications throughout August.

Elon Musk recently tweeted: “Great name! Wouldn’t worry about this particular one, but a big rock will hit Earth eventually & we currently have no defence.”

This was in reply to Joe Rogan’s tweet about the Express online story entitled, “Asteroid shock: NASA preparing for ‘colossal God of Chaos’ rock to arrive in next 10 years”

JUST IN: Asteroid near-miss: 177-foot rock narrowly skims Earth

But, if we do outlive the many asteroid threats that have always been a peril of living on the only habitable ball on the cosmic billiard table, we still may not survive the end of mater.

Our kind of matter is built out of atoms composed of protons, neutrons and electrons.

Protons and electrons are normally said to be perfectly stable, with the neutrons being stabilised by the protons.

On their own they decay with a half-life of a few minutes.

However, many physical theories predict that protons are not truly stable and will decay over enormously long timespans.

Proton decay has never been observed so far despite some heroic research efforts.

But, this merely tells us that it takes trillions of years, if it happens.

This decay will spell the end of matter as we know it.

Stars and planets will slowly turn into radiation plus free electrons and positrons, unable to form habitable systems.

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