Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Me Worry About Asteroids? Nah, I've Got Twitter

From Wired Science:
The Real Twitpocalypse:Asteroid Alerts Come to Twitter

Been looking for a reason to join Twitter, but haven’t been able to quite take the plunge?

Forget Shaq and William Gibson: Alerts about asteroids cruising near Earth have come to Twitter. @AsteroidWatch will let you know any time a space rock gets within a few lunar distances. Much more asteroid info will be distributed via a new NASA/JPL website. (Though if you want to know if a nuke is the best way to stop an asteroid, you’ll still need to come to Wired Science.)

“Most people have a fascination with near-Earth objects,” Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a press release. “And I have to agree with them. I have studied them for over three decades and I find them to be scientifically fascinating, and a few are potentially hazardous to Earth.”

The recent collision between a comet and Jupiter underscored the very real presence of possibly dangerous space objects in the solar system.

The Twitter feed, @lowflyingrocks, already uses NASA’s raw data to let you know after an asteroid has passed the Earth. But the site tells you about every rock within 0.2 astronomical units — that’s more than 18 million miles — so you get a ton of updates. @AsteroidWatch will be choosier about the near-earth objects it tells you about. Only rocks that come within a scant 750,000 miles or so of Earth will earn a Tweet.

With previous Twitter accounts, NASA employees have created voices for the various robots and machines that the agency operates. Some, like @MarsPhoenix, were cute and cuddly. Perhaps the proper voice for the near earth object warning system will be slightly more urgent and prone to profanity.

Any kind of personality would be an improvement on @lowflyingrock’s robotic language. Its last Tweet went a little something like this: “2007 LL, ~220m-490m in diameter, just passed the Earth at 6km/s, missing by ~twenty-seven million, five hundred thousand km.”

Now Don't You feel better? Twitter is on the job. It will let us know about those dastardly asteroids and save us all. Sure, I'll sleep better tonight. On the other hand maybe I will lay away all night waiting for that fateful tweet. Oh why bother. Wait a minute my Tweet Deck is calling. An asteroid coming? No, just the Astros losing 12-0 to the Cubs.

4 comments:

pineapple said...

I just watched Meteor a few weeks ago. As long as Marla Sokoloff is around to save us all, that will keep me warm at night. in other words, I don't want to know anything about big things coming at me from outer space -- I have enough to worry about!

Jill said...

I hear ya!

bettygram said...

I am sure if there is anything that is going to land that will highly impact my life, some news agency will tell me over and over.

Dr.John said...

I wonder if I can get asteroid insurrance?