4 September 2003

NEO Information Centre Latest News:
The new data have enabled astronomers to refine the orbit of asteroid 2003 QQ47, and so rule out 13 of the 31 potential impacts originally listed on the JPL Current Impact Risk table. Among those 'virtual orbits' to be ruled out was the one for 21 March 2014, which gave the asteroid its Torino 1 rating.

The 18 remaining potential impacts are all rated at zero on the Torino scale and are therefore classed as 'events with no likely consequences'. Once again, the only remaining Torino 1 rated asteroid on the JPL Current Impact Risk table is asteroid 1997 XR2, with 2 potential impacts in June 2101. However, as with 2003 QQ47, the probability of 1997 XR2 impacting Earth is highly unlikely. Estimates suggest this smaller asteroid would impart just one thousandth of the energy that 2003 QQ47 was capable of delivering.

Given how swiftly 2003 QQ47 has been downgraded from a Torino 1, some may question whether the NEO Information Centre should have posted the information about 2003 QQ47 on the website in the first place. However we hope by keeping the public and media informed of this kind of issue, as it is unfolding rather than after the fact, we can promote understanding of the process of asteroid detection, tracking and risk assessment.

Well, we can all breathe easy again. Although George Bush's shift from his Top Gun role to Captain Kirk would have been fun...

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