Rare near-Earth asteroid fly-by set for Tuesday

Nov 03, 2011
This NASA image shows an artist's impression of an asteroid belt in orbit around a star. A massive asteroid will make a rare fly-by Tuesday, and although it poses no danger of crashing to Earth, US scientists said this week they are looking forward to getting a closer look.

A massive asteroid will make a rare fly-by Tuesday, and although it poses no danger of crashing to Earth, US scientists said this week they are looking forward to getting a closer look.

"This is not a potentially hazardous , just a good opportunity to study one," said National Science Foundation astronomer Thomas Statler.

The circular asteroid, named 2005 YU55, is about 1,300 feet (400 meters) wide and will come closer than the Moon, zipping by at a distance of 202,000 miles (325,000 kilometers), the said.

The time of the nearest flyby is expected to be at 2328 GMT (6:28 Eastern time in the US).

The encounter will be the closest by an asteroid of that size in more than 30 years, and a similar event will not happen again until 2028.

Astronomers who have studied the object, part of the C-class of asteroids, say it is very dark, like the color of carbon, and quite porous.

It was first discovered in 2005 by Robert McMillan of the Spacewatch Project, a solar-system-scanning group of scientists near Tucson, Arizona.

While 2005 YU55 will stay a safe distance away, it is part of a crew of 1,262 big asteroids circling the Sun and measuring more than 500 feet (150 meters) across that classifies as "potentially hazardous."

"We want to study these asteroids so if one does look like it may hit us someday, we'll know what to do about it," Statler said.

The asteroid's closest pass is set to take place in 2094, at a distance of 167,000 miles (269,000 kilometers), according to forecasts.

"The observations will give us a piece of the puzzle, one we don't get many chances to see," said Don Yeomans of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"At one time, we thought these were the asteroids that delivered carbon and other elements to the , so they are pretty important."

NASA said the last time a this big approached Earth was in 1976, "although astronomers did not know about the at the time."

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User comments : 10

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NotAsleep
5 / 5 (5) Nov 03, 2011
I appreciate this article much more than CNN's piece. Their second paragraph lists it as a "potentially hazardous object" without immediately mentioning that it isn't this pass that makes it potentially hazardous. Furthermore, the stand-alone third paragraph asks "What would happen if an asteroid this size crashed into earth?"

More examples of why the general public freaks out about everything. Read their comments for a good laugh
kaasinees
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 03, 2011
2012!
mickelodian
3.6 / 5 (5) Nov 03, 2011
Ahh yes...yet another observation that will be blown out of all proportion on Tuesday evening by the media as we sit in front of the evening news... and then promptly all forgotten about on Wednesday morning, when Linsey Lohans thievery exploits will be back in the news.

Meanwhile the people doing the research on this "disaster, disaster, asteroid the size of a moon to impact new york... read all about it!" event are having their funding cut back... sheesh....

Makes you wonder why some of us bother to try explain things to the masses to be honest.
kaasinees
2.8 / 5 (6) Nov 03, 2011
I was being sarcastic :(
ROBTHEGOB
1 / 5 (1) Nov 03, 2011
Hope the orbit calculations are correct. But if not, maybe it will hit Washington D.C.
rah
1 / 5 (1) Nov 04, 2011
NASA should be prepared for the next close encounter with a land-able package of sensors including a high def camera (with a long term power supply, plutonium RTG's or whatever)for the next large object which will be passing by.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Nov 04, 2011
To be fair: The distance of closest approach is pretty close (closer than the average distance of the Moon).

As Terry Pratchett once remarked in "The Last Continent"(alluding to Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacts on Jupiter):
When gods get together they tell the story of one particular planet whose inhabitants watched, with mild
interest, huge continent-wrecking slabs of ice slap into another world which was, in astronomical terms,
right next door and then did nothing about it because that sort of thing only happens in Outer Space.


I think we should start doing more than just watching. A little serious preparation might be in order.

CNN compares it to the size of an aircraft carrier. It is MUCH more than that:
- An aircraft carrier may be 400 meters long but it isn't 400 meters wide nor is it 400 meters high.
- An aircraft carrier is steel hulls around, mostly, air. This thing is massive.

If something like this hits we're in trouble.
rawa1
1 / 5 (4) Nov 04, 2011
The encounter will be the closest by an asteroid of that size in more than 30 years, and a similar event will not happen again until 2028
We should make some statistics of these encounters, I mean to construct the graph of average density of asteroids at the proximity of Earth. The recent observations of many impacts of comets at Jupiter or Sun leads to the clue, we are passing through more dense cloud of these things and we should study it systematically. IMO it fits well with my theory of global warming, caused with dark matter cloud, which is passing through solar system. This cloud of dark matter (antineutrinos?) attracts and collects the heavier bodies in it, thus increasing the risk of their collision with Earth.

http://science.na...voyager/

So we should find the actual source of this cloud: it could be the galactic plane, the ejection of dark matter from central area of Milky way or the approaching massive, but dark object.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Nov 04, 2011
Asteroids fit with (undetected) dark matter clouds passing through the solar system which fits with (undetected) antineutrinos with (undetected) attractive influnce which fit with (unexplained, untested) risks of collisions.

I mean: Come on. Even for you that is a very loony theory.

As for 'Many impacts on Jupiter': We had three (observed) ones in the past 16 years. The last one was also a relatively 'tiny' object (8-13 meters diameter). I'm not sure this counts as 'many'. and with such a low sample size any statistic is next to meaningless.
holoman
4 / 5 (1) Nov 04, 2011
Too bad NASA is blowing it again.

Great opportunity to plant satellite on asteroid to do
scientific work as asteroid goes out into the universe.

Is any management at NASA manning the helm ?