Oddly enough I first heard about the latest killer asteroid on the podcast edition of NPR's Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me show. They had a NASA scientist on as guest and he mentioned it. Perhaps it was all timed that way, maybe that's NASA's equivalent of a "book tour." Anyway, it seems that within the next 50 years an asteroid is going to come so close to Earth that it is literally going to come between us and our satellites. That's pretty freakin close.
I have a friend who works on the Hubble telescope. I asked him about this, and here's how the conversation went over AOL instant messenger:
Question: "what's this i hear about an asteroid having a near miss with us within like the next 50 years or something? near like 'between us and our satellites' kind of near"
Answer: "yeah, cool huh? wannaspend $300 million to change its orbit?"
Question: "we gonna die?"
Answer: "It is unclear, I think it is much smaller than the dinosaur killer"
This was a couple of days ago. I'm fascinated that his only answer to me "are we going to die" comment was a simple "It is unclear." That and the fact that the coming asteroid is, quote, "cool, huh?"