Asteroid Impact Avoidance - Impact Probability Calculation Pattern

Impact Probability Calculation Pattern

The ellipses in the diagram at right show the likely asteroid position at closest Earth approach. At first, with only a few asteroid observations, the error ellipse is very large and includes the Earth. Further observations shrink the error ellipse, but it still includes the Earth. This raises the impact probability, since the Earth now covers a larger fraction of the error region. Finally, yet more observations (often radar observations, or discovery of a previous sighting of the same asteroid on archival images) shrink the ellipse until the Earth is outside the error region, and the impact probability returns to near zero.

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