Thursday, February 8, 2018

Newly Discovered House-Sized Asteroid 2018 CB to Zip by Earth at a Close Distance

Asteroid 2018 CB will pass closely by Earth on Friday, Feb. 9, at a distance of about 39,000 miles. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A newly detected house-sized asteroid, designated 2018 CB, is slated to fly by Earth on Friday, February 9, at around 22:30 UTC, with a velocity of 26,000 mph (58,000 km/h). The space rock will zip by our planet at a relatively close distance of approximately 0.19 lunar distances (LD), what corresponds to 39,000 miles (64,000 kilometers).

2018 CB is an Apollo-type near-Earth object (NEO) discovered February 4 by the Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) on November 16. CSS is a project to discover comets and asteroids, and to search for NEOs, based at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Lab in Tucson, Arizona.

According to astronomers, 2018 CB has an absolute magnitude of 25.9, and an estimated diameter between 50 and 130 feet (15 and 40 meters). It orbits the Sun every 610 days at a distance of approximately 1.41 AU.

“Although 2018 CB is quite small, it might well be larger than the asteroid that entered the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, almost exactly five years ago, in 2013,” said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena (JPL), California. “Asteroids of this size do not often approach this close to our planet - maybe only once or twice a year.”

While 2018 CB will fly by Earth at a relatively close distance, NASA confirmed that the object’s pass poses no danger to us. Skyandtelescope.com also informs that 2018 CB is not on a collision course with or planet.

“2018 CB will be traveling at around 26,000 mph (58,000 km/h). With that much speed and momentum, it can't be pulled in by Earth's gravity, so there's no cause for alarm,” Bob King of Skyandtelescope.com wrote.

Besides close approach to Earth on Friday, 2018 CB will also fly by the Moon one day later at around 12:56 UTC at a distance of 0.79 LD, or 188,000 miles (303,000 kilometers). Next fly-by of this asteroid to our planet is expected to take place on March 8, 2023, when it will pass at a much larger distance of approximately 23.3 LD (5.5 million miles, or 8.9 million kilometers).

On February 8, there were 1,882 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) detected and none of them is on a collision course with our planet. PHAs are asteroids larger than 330 feet (100 meters) that can come closer to Earth than 19.5 LD.

To date, astronomers have discovered more than 17,700 NEOs. Only this month nine such objects were detected.

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