Thursday, June 29, 2017

House-Sized Near-Earth Object to Swoosh Past Earth on Asteroid Day


A newly discovered near-Earth object (NEO), designated 2017 MC1, is slated to whiz by our planet coincidentally during the International Asteroid Day that will take place on June 30. The space rock will fly by Earth at 21:25 UTC with a relative velocity of 11.6 km/s.

The International Asteroid Day is an annual global event that aims to raise awareness about asteroids and what can be done to protect the Earth. This year, it looks like the participants of this event will have a chance to observe an asteroid flying by the planet.

2017 MC1 was detected June 20, 2017, using the Pan-STARRS 1 (PS1) telescope at the summit of Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) is an astronomical survey consisting of astronomical cameras, telescopes and a computing facility, surveying the sky for moving objects on a continual basis.

According to astronomers, 2017 MC1 is an Apollo-type object with an estimated diameter between 25 and 78 meters, a semi-major axis of approximately 2.73 AU and an absolute magnitude of 24.5. The asteroid has an orbital period of about four and a half years and will pass by Earth at a safe distance of 2.5 lunar distances (LD), or 960,000 kilometers. 

Besides the fly-by of 2017 MC1, another noteworthy close approach will take place on June 30. An Apollo-type asteroid, known as 2017 MB3, is expected to pass by Earth at a distance of approximately 5 LD (1.92 million kilometers). This space rock is estimated to be 16-49 meters in diameter.

On June 29, there were 1,803 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) detected and none of them is on a collision course with our planet. PHAs are asteroids larger than 100 meters that can come closer to Earth than 19.5 LD.

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