Wednesday, November 29, 2017

House-Sized Asteroid to Pass by Earth on Thursday


A newly discovered house-sized asteroid, designated 2017 WH2, is slated to fly by Earth on Thursday, November 30 at 11:01 UTC. The space rock will pass by our planet at a safe distance of about 6.4 lunar distances (LD), or 2.46 million kilometers, with a relative velocity of 16.8 km/s.

2017 WH2 was first observed on November 18 by 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.

2017 WH2 is an Apollo-type asteroid with an absolute magnitude of and an estimated diameter between 26 and 82 meters. The space rock has a semimajor axis of 1.63 AU and orbits the sun every 2.08 years.

This asteroid is also expected to make a close approach to Mars on May 2, 2018. It will miss the Red Planet at a distance of approximately 24.5 LD (9.4 million kilometers).

On November 29, there were 1,853 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.

To date, astronomers have discovered more than 17,300 near-Earth objects (NEOs). Only this month, 209 new NEOs were detected.

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