by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) April 18, 2017
An asteroid stretching 650 metres (2,000 feet) across is on track to whoosh past Earth on Wednesday at a safe -- but uncomfortably close -- distance, according to astronomers.
"Although there is no possibility for the asteroid to collide with our planet, this will be a very close approach for an asteroid this size," NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a statement.
Dubbed 2014-JO25, the asteroid will come within 1.8 million kilometres (1.1 million miles) of Earth, less than five times the distance to the Moon.
It will pass closest to our planet after having looped around the Sun.
2014-JO25 will then continue on past Jupiter before heading back toward the centre of our Solar System.
Smaller asteroids whizz by Earth several times a week. But the last time one at least this size came as close was in 2004, when Toutatis -- five kilometres (3.1 miles) across -- passed within four lunar distances.
The next scheduled close encounter with a big rock will not happen before 2027, when the 800-metre (half-mile) wide asteroid 199-AN10 will fly by at just one lunar distance, about 380,000 km (236,000 miles).
The last time 2014-JO25 was in our immediate neighbourhood was 400 years ago, and its next brush with Earth won't happen until sometime after 2600.
The April 19 flyby is an "outstanding opportunity" for astronomers and amateur stargazers, NASA said.
"Astronomers plan to observe it with telescopes around the world to learn as much about it as possible," the US space agency said.
Besides its size and trajectory, scientists also know that its surface is twice as reflective as that of the Moon.
It should be visible with a small optical telescope for one or two nights before moving out of range.
2014-JO25 was discovered in May 2014 by astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona.
Also on Wednesday, a comet known as PanSTARRS will make its closest approach to Earth at a "very safe" distance of 175 million km (109 million miles), according to NASA.
The comet has brightened recently and should be visible in the dawn sky with binoculars or a small telescope.
Asteroids are composed of rocky and metallic material, whereas comets -- generally smaller -- are more typically made of ice, dust and rocky stuff.
Both were formed early in the history of the Solar System some 4.5 billion years ago.
Paris (AFP) April 14, 2017
An asteroid as big as the Rock of Gibraltar will streak past Earth on April 19 at a safe but uncomfortably close distance, according to astronomers. "Although there is no possibility for the asteroid to collide with our planet, this will be a very close approach for an asteroid this size," NASA said in a statement. Dubbed 2014-JO25 and roughly 650 metres (2,000 feet) across, the asteroid ... read more
Asteroid and Comet Mission News, Science and Technology
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|