Asteroid to Make Rare Close Flyby of Earth

Jan 24, 2008
Asteroid to Make Rare Close Flyby of Earth
The illustration from an amateur astronomer shows the asteroid´s track on the sky for 3 days near the time of the close Earth approach as seen from the city of Philadelphia. Image courtesy: Dr. Dale Ireland, Silverdale, WA.

Scientists are monitoring the orbit of asteroid 2007 TU24. The asteroid, believed to be between 150 meters (500 feet) and 610 meters (2,000 feet) in size, is expected to fly past Earth on Jan. 29, with its closest distance being about 537,500 kilometers (334,000 miles) at 12:33 a.m. Pacific time (3:33 a.m. Eastern time). It should be observable that night by amateur astronomers with modest-sized telescopes.

Asteroid 2007 TU24 was discovered by the NASA-sponsored Catalina Sky Survey on Oct. 11, 2007. Scientists at NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., have determined that there is no possibility of an impact with Earth in the foreseeable future.

"This will be the closest approach by a known asteroid of this size or larger until 2027," said Don Yeomans, manager of the Near Earth Object Program Office at JPL. "As its closest approach is about one-and-a-half times the distance of Earth to the moon, there is no reason for concern. On the contrary, Mother Nature is providing us an excellent opportunity to perform scientific observations."

Asteroid 2007 TU24 will reach an approximate apparent magnitude 10.3 on Jan. 29-30 before quickly becoming fainter as it moves farther from Earth. On that night, the asteroid will be observable in dark and clear skies through amateur telescopes with apertures of at least 7.6 centimeters (3 inches). An object with a magnitude of 10.3 is about 50 times fainter than an object just visible to the naked eye in a clear, dark sky.

NASA detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth. The Near Earth Object Observation Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," discovers, characterizes and computes trajectories for these objects to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

Source: NASA

Explore further: NASA's reliance on outsourcing launches causes a dilemma for the space agency

Related Stories

Rosetta tracks debris around comet

Jun 23, 2015

Ever since its approach to and arrival at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, Rosetta has been investigating the nucleus and its environment with a variety of instruments and techniques. One key area is the ...

Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina

Jun 18, 2015

Live in (or planning on visiting) the southern hemisphere soon? A first time visitor to the inner solar system is ready to put on the first of a two part act starting this month, as Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina ...

What is the Kuiper Belt?

Jun 17, 2015

Dr. Mike Brown is a professor of planetary astronomy at Caltech. He's best known as the man who killed Pluto, thanks to his team's discovery of Eris and other Kuiper Belt Objects. We asked him to help us ...

Recommended for you

Crash test assesses plane emergency locator transmitters

18 hours ago

The Cessna 172 airplane dangled 82 feet in the air – looking almost like it was coming in for a landing, except for the cables attaching it to a huge gantry at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, ...

NASA image: Curiosity's stars and stripes

18 hours ago

This view of the American flag medallion on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity was taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 44th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Sept. 19, 2012). ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.