An exceptionally close encounter - Asteroid the size of a BUS narrowly avoids hitting a satellite after skimming past Earth at a tiny distance of just 12,000 miles | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

8 May, Saturday


An exceptionally close encounter - Asteroid the size of a BUS narrowly avoids hitting a satellite after skimming past Earth at a tiny distance of just 12,000 miles

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An asteroid almost as long as a London bus came just 12,000 miles from the Earth, closer to the planet than many geostationary satellites, according to NASA.
 
According to astronomers from the Virtual Telescope Project, the asteroid, dubbed 2021 GW4, posed no threat to Earth as it passed at a safe distance and was small enough that it would have burned up in the atmosphere had it been closer.
 
On April 12 at 14:01 BST the space rock came just 12,000 miles from the planet while travelling at 18,700 miles per hour, astronomers explained.
 
For comparison the moon is 238,000 miles from the Earth and geostationary satellites, including those providing GPS services, are about 20,000 miles away.
 
The asteroid was first discovered by astronomers from the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona on April 8, just days before it 'skimmed' the planet.
 
It is between 11 and 25ft in length, according to NASA, so pales in size compared to some other recent asteroid flybys, including the 108ft GT3 that camera  159,000 miles from the surface of the planet on Friday.
 
'We repeat this is an absolutely safe close approach,' Astronomer and founder of the Virtual Telescope Project Gianluca Masi told USA Today. 
 
'Asteroids of that size coming so close are relatively rare, but so far this year we had four objects coming within 0.07 lunar distance from Earth's center: 2021 GW4 is the largest of these four rocks,' Masi said. 
 
The size of the rock makes it unlikely it would do any damage, as NASA estimates at least one asteroid up to three times the size of GW4 burns up in thr atmosphere every year.
 
The US space agency estimates it would take a rock over half a mile long to cause worldwide problems if it were to hit the Earth. 
 
Anything smaller could cause local problems, especially if it hit on land, but would not be a major global crisis.   
 
Asteroids are rocky fragments left over from the formation of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago, most orbiting between Mars and Jupiter.
 
Occasionally, asteroids' orbital paths are influenced by the gravitational tug of planets, which cause their paths to alter. 
 
Astronomers from the Virtual Telescope project captured an image of the space rock when it was 180,000 miles from Earth. The arrow in the centre points to the object

 

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