Asteroid Comes Close to Earth

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Asteroid Hit EarthAn asteroid the size of a city bus passed by Earth and the moon’s orbit on Friday, January 27, 2012. The asteroid made the closest approach to Earth at around 9:30 a.m. CST.

Being so small, the asteroid would not have been able to make it through the Earth’s atmosphere. Astronomers with NASA’s Asteroid Watch at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California said just that in a Twitter message: “Asteroid 2012 BX34 is small. It wouldn’t get through our atmosphere intact even if it dared to try.”

Experts say that for an asteroid to cause any threat to Earth, it needs to measure at least 140m or about 460 feet.

The asteroid that came close to Earth today is about 36 feet wide. Asteroid 2012 BX34 came as close as a distance of 0.17 times that between the Earth and the moon. In other words, it’s about five times closer to Earth than the moon is.

September of 2011, NASA made an announcement that they had catalogued around 90 percent of the largest asteroids which are the size of a mountain or bigger, whose orbits can bring them near Earth. Astronomers estimate there are about 981 big near-Earth objects that occasionally come close.

The asteroid that came close to Earth today, Asteroid 2012 BX34, was the second one this week to come close to Earth. Monday, January 23, 2012 there was another small asteroid called 2012 BS1 that passed Earth. It came about 3.1 times the Earth and the moon distance. The Asteroid Watch team stated, “Asteroid 2012 BS1 is so small, about 7 meters, it would disintegrate in our atmosphere if it were to come close to Earth.”

Telegraph UK pointed out a few more asteroids that will be coming close to Earth in the future. They reported, “In July 2010, NASA gave details of an asteroid measuring more than 1,800 feet wide and will have one-in-a-thousand chance of colliding with Earth in 2182. A collision that promises to create more damage than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Preceding this, Apophis, a 25 million ton celestial body is expected to narrowly miss our planet three times in succession. The first near-miss is expected on the superstitious date of Friday 13th 2029.”

In the future, astronomers would like to be able to prevent asteroids from hitting the Earth.  Space.com reported: “Throughout history, asteroids big enough to cause major damage and disruption to the global economy and society (were they to strike a populated area today) have hit Earth, on average, every 200 or 300 years, according to former astronaut Rusty Schweickart.  Schweickart chairs the B612 Foundation, a group dedicated to predicting and preventing cataclysmic asteroid impacts on Earth. The group’s chief message is that humanity’s survival will someday depend on our ability to deflect a killer asteroid away from Earth.”

 

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