The world is coming to an end. It is a common and constant refrain, one disseminated by the superstitious and the empirically-guided. Oddly enough, the year 2012 has become one of agreement between those who follow religious prophets and seers as well as those who would believe that the destruction of life on the planet is more arbitrary and at the mercy of cosmic forces dealing with trajectory, time, motion, speed, and mass. That strange confluence of agreement recently was brought about by the idea that the comet Elenin, which is slated to pass near Earth in 2012, would not simply pass on by but would actually intersect the Earth in its orbit. NASA, in an attempt to debunk the idea of a coming world-ending collision, published a Q&A style article on Elenin this week via the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's website.
The questions came from the gleaning of queries that continue to pour into NASA about Elenin. The answers were fielded by Don Yeomans of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and David Morrison of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.
The first thing that should be noted about comet Elenin is that the closest it will ever come to hitting the Earth in 22 million miles, which is 90 times the distance between the Earth and the moon. The second most glaring problem with the fulfillment of the 2012 doomsday prophecies is that it will do this on October 16. This year - 2011.
NASA has lately been playing debunker to all sorts of doomsday ideas. The space agency was quick to point out the nonsense involved in the 2009 apocalyptic movie "2012." NASA astrobiologist David Morrison posted an article to Discovery News in 2008 debunking the idea that Planet X, the often theorized massive planet/companion star at the Solar System's edge, was headed toward Earth to carry out the doomsday prophecy.