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Small Asteroid Flies By Earth

The asteroid, known as 2004 XP14, was discovered in 2004 by astronomers at MIT and has a diameter of about 800 meters. At its closest approach, it passed 432,000 kilometers away or about the average distance of the Moon. The object was too far away to threaten even the global network of telecommunications satellites sitting in geosynchronous orbits at distances averaging about 36,000 kilometers (22,000 miles). The asteroid - one of about 700 such objects - is known as an Apollo-class asteroid, whose orbits pose a potential threat to Earth. Astronomers know of no asteroids that pose an immediate threat, but past history suggests that asteroid impacts are likely to recur - unless technology can be developed to deflect or destroy them.
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Jul 04, 2006
An asteroid hurtling through space came within a hair's breadth -- in astronomical terms, at least -- of crashing into the Earth early Monday, US scientists said. Apollo Asteroid 2004 XP14 was discovered by the Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts, part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which claims the title of "the world's principal detector of asteroids" said Roger Sudbury, a spokesman for the lab.

"We were the discoverer," said Sudbury of the Apollo Asteroid 2004 XP14, which passed 268,873 miles (some 432,000 kilometers) from the Earth at 0425 GMT.

The distance between the two bodies was slightly greater than that between the Earth and the moon -- a close shave in the vastness of outer space.

Sudbury said the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Minor Planet Center, which is affiliated with the Lincoln Lab, had classified the body as a "potentially hazardous asteroid," because of its proximity to Earth which, had it been hit, would have caused a "significant impact."

"Most would just burn up upon entry into the atmosphere," Sudbury said.

"The question, of course, is where the Earth is as the asteroid goes by?"

Sudbury said The Minor Planet Center has several criteria, including size and other factors, to indicate "whether an asteroid could actually penetrate the Earth's atmosphere and do significant damage."

He said scientists were able to reassure the public that there was never any great risk that Monday's asteroid would stray off course and crash into the Earth.

Sudbury told AFP that near-Earth asteroids were once believed to be a rarity, but recent scientific and technological advances have allowed researchers to track asteroids that previously escaped detection.

"In a few years we've detected more than have ever been discovered in history," he said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Large Asteroid To Pass Close By Earth
Los Angeles (SPX) Jul 03, 2006
An asteroid with the power to wipe out a small country will miss the Earth on Monday. Asteroid 2004 XP14 is nearly half a mile wide and was discovered in December 2004. It is in the "Apollo" class of asteroids, which are those that cross orbits with Earth.

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