Sunday, September 10, 2017

Large Asteroid to Fly by Earth Today


Large near-Earth object (NEO), designated 2017 OP68, will fly by our planet today, missing the Earth at a distance of about 19.9 lunar distances (LD), or 7.6 million kilometers. The close approach is expected to occur at 18:25 UTC, when the space rock will whiz by our planet with a velocity of 11.7 km/s.

2017 OP68 is an Amor-type asteroid first spotted on July 25, 2017 by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). WISE is infrared-wavelength astronomical space telescope that has discovered thousands of minor planets.

Astronomers reveal that 2017 OP68 has an absolute magnitude of 20.6 and a diameter between 150 and 470 meters. The asteroid has an orbital period of nearly four years and a semimajor axis of about 2.5 AU.

Next close approach of 2017 OP68 to Earth is expected to take place on July 17, 2021, when it will pass by our planet at a much larger distance of 131 LD (50.3 million kilometers).

On September 10, 2017, there were 1,803 potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) discovered to date. PHAs are space rocks larger than approximately 100 meters that can come closer to Earth than 19.5 LD. However, none of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet.

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