Monday, 23 April, 2018

Close Call: Giant Asteroid Flies Through the Earth-Moon Orbit

Astronomers Say an Asteroid Snuck Up on Us and Almost Hit Earth Yesterday Image credit YouTube
Sandra Phillips | 17 April, 2018, 10:35

The distance is about the half the distance between Earth and the moon and the estimated diameter of the space rock is about 131 to 328 feet as reported by NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies ( CNEOS). The asteroids which are present in this belt do not pose any threat to the Earth.

The asteroid was first observed by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey project, based at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Lab in Tucson, Arizona.

The 2018 GE3 asteroid was discovered just one day before it skimmed past Earth in what scientists are calling a "surprise" flyby. "Hours later, amateur astronomer Michael Jäger of Weißenkirchen Austria video-recorded the space rock gliding through the southern constellation Serpens", Spaceweather.com reported.

Scientists estimate that the diameter of the asteroid in 2018 GE3 three to six times the size of the celestial body that exploded over Chelyabinsk in 2013. Perhaps he would disintegrate in the atmosphere before reaching the ground. Congress tasked NASA with tracking all objects bigger than 460 feet wide, which 2018 GE3 falls shy of, but NASA has only been able to identify about one-third of the estimated total so far.

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It was also incredibly fast-it was traveling at a speed of 66,174 miles per hour, or Mach 86.

With little warning, a relatively large asteroid flew through the Earth-Moon system on April 15th only 192,200 km (0.5 LD) from our planet.

Had it entered the atmosphere, a great portion of the asteroid would have broken up, but some might have made it through to the Earth's surface, EarthSky said. Nevertheless, it is a significant asteroid, illustrating how even large space rocks can still take us by surprise.

Illustration of the orbit of asteroid 2018 GE3. Every ~2.5 years the space rock crosses the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars-although not necessarily making close approaches to the planets themselves.

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