Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Small Asteroid Passes Very Close to Earth


A newly discovered small asteroid, designated 2017 TH5, gave Earth a close shave on Monday, October 16, passing by our planet at a relatively close distance of about 0.26 lunar distances (LD), or 99,800 kilometers. The fly-by occurred approximately at 17:15 UTC.

2017 TH5 was detected October 15, 2017 by the Mount Lemmon Survey (MLS), which utilizes a 1.52 m cassegrain reflector telescope at Mount Lemmon Observatory in Arizona. MLS is one of the most prolific surveys when it comes to discovering near-Earth objects (NEOs). So far, it has detected more than 50,000 minor planets.

2017 TH5 is an Apollo-type asteroid with an estimated diameter of about 10 meters. It has an absolute magnitude of 28.4, a semimajor axis of approximately 1.86 AU and it takes it about two and a half years to fully orbit the sun. On Monday, it flew by our planet with a relative velocity of 12.1 km/s.

Besides passing our planet, 2017 TH5 also missed the Moon at 2:05 UTC on Tuesday, October 17 at a distance of about 0.5 LD (192,000 kilometers). It flew by the Moon with a relative velocity of 11.72 km/s. Next close approach of 2017 TH5 to Earth is expected on October 18, 2103 when the space rock will pass by our planet at a distance of approximately 1.5 LD (576,000 kilometers).

Currently, there are 1,847 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) detected, however 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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