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Monday, November 07, 2011


From Comet Elenin to asteroid YU55 why the Heck are People complaining about NASA?

There is one element that runs continuously through the various Doomsayers claims about comet Elenin/2005 YU55/Nibiru/whatever random chunk of cosmic scenery has caught their attention this week.

It's NASA.

Seriously, what is it about NASA that has everyone thinking it is all of astronomy. It's never asteroid 2005 YU55's orbital elements its NASA's trajectory. NASA can never get a break, if NASA doesn't make a comment of some obscure piece of cosmic debris, they are covering things up. If NASA does make a comment, or provide outreach materials, that's a cover up too.

Look folks, NASA is the US National Aeronautic and Space Administration, not the world astronomy arbiter. The International Astronomical Union represents professional astronomers world wide, and amateur astronomers are represented by hundreds of state or regional association or just do their own thing.

NASA is probably an obvious target because they have a great outreach program, and make a lot of material available for free (like their orbital dynamics program) , but for example, it's not NASA that generates the orbital elements of YU55 that is represented in their orbital diagrams, it's the entire astronomical community, amateur and professional (represented through the Minor Planet Ephemeris Service).

The whole issue of NASA faking stuff is a non-starter, the astronomical community would know straight away and call them out on it, as one poster wrote in the comments to another post:

Remember that NASA can't lie to us (amateur astronomers). We have the tools to verify what they say and the knowledge of how space objects behave.

Since decades, nobody has ever been seen lying, although we are plenty to check.
We are thousands around the world with big telescopes. We survey asteroids and comets for them, we can do the calculations for them. The astronomers community is connected with Twitter, Facebook and others ... We are able to raise alerts ! And we do for each discovery.

If one day an asteroid is not EXACTLY at the place it should be in the sky, we will raise an alert. But we never do that because trajectories are really accurate and space objets do not decide to change their path. They follow physics rules that are simple and well well known. No surprise with trajectories...
So, people worrying about NASA, get over it.

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YU55 orbit update!
(Last obs:2011-11-06)

On 19 January 2029, 2005 YU55 will pass about 0.0023 AU (340,000 km; 210,000 mi) from Venus.

As of 7 November 2011, the nominal solution shows 2005 YU55 passing 0.1 AU (15,000,000 km; 9,300,000 mi) from the Earth on 12 November 2041.

-- Kevin Heider
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