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Topics: Earth, Asteroid

Wednesday, 6 October 2004

image for Earth saved - for now!
A potato-shaped object

A little-known potato-shaped object about 3 miles long caused a stir on the world-wide web last week when 7-year old amateur astonomer Ian Peace posted on his blog that "a horrendous asteroid was hurtling towards Earth at 14 thousand miles per hour".

Subsequent enquiries to the Jet Propulsion Labs (part of NASA) who run the Earth-watch program revealed that Master Ian's asteroid was indeed real but his measurements were inaccurate and probably caused by the"wobble" in his bedroom floor as his mother came up to his room for the ninth time that evening to put him back to bed.

The asteroid, called Toutatis, actually "missed" the Earth by four lunar distances (heck, that was a close one) on its "fly-by" on Wednesday 29th September at 13:35 GMT. Although Toutatis makes an appearance every four years, the JPL issued a statement to the effect that this was the closest one for the next 5 centuries.

Not to be outdone, I.Peace re-sited his telecope in the garden shed and resumed observations. To his utter horror he realised that the Earth's gravity in the 2004 close shave had altered the orbit of Toutatis, and hurried calculations on his ACME Z80 computer revealed that its reappearance on December 12th, 2012 was on a direct collision course with Earth.

NASA scientists are staying close-lipped for the time being, fearing a mass panic, rioting and food hoarding. Such a catastrophe would mean the end of the world on a scale comparable to the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Our Spoof reporter was able to ascertain that the likely impact site would be Iraq. President Kerry is being advised to withdraw his troops well in good time.

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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