Sunday, April 2, 2017

Huge Potentially Hazardous Asteroid to Fly by Earth on April 19


A nearly one-kilometer-wide potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) designated 2014 JO25 is slated to pass our planet on April 19. However, although the object is classified by the Minor Planet Center as a PHA, it will miss the Earth at a safe distance of about 4.57 lunar distances (LD), or 1.8 million kilometers.

PHA are asteroids larger than 100 meters that can come closer to Earth than 19.5 LD. The size of 2014 JO25 is estimated to be between 0.8 to 1.0 kilometers. The space rock was discovered by the Mt. Lemmon Survey in May 2014.

Astronomers reveal that 2014 JO25 is a bright object with an absolute magnitude of 18.1 and it will among the best targets for radar observations this year. However, the spectral class, rotation period, and pole direction of this asteroid are still unknown.

“This object will be very close to the Sun until April 19, after which it will be favorably positioned for optical observations. We do not expect to know the rotation period before the radar observations because this object will be too faint and/or too close to the Sun,” according to the Asteroid Radar Research website.

April 19 fly-by will be the closest approach of 2014 JO25 to our planet in the last 400 years. Another fly-by of Earth is expected to take place on April 22, 2091. The object also makes regular close approaches to Mercury and Venus.

Besides 2014 JO25 two other huge space rocks will pass by Earth. Asteroids 2003 BD44 and 1999 CU3, both approximately 1.9-kilometer wide, will miss our planet at a much larger distance than 2014 JO25 – 21.7 and 63.7 LD respectively.

On April 2, there were 1,781 PHAs detected and none of them is on a collision course with our planet.

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