Friday, August 17, 2018

Three Newly Detected Asteroids to Fly By Earth on Saturday


Three newly discovered asteroids will pass by the Earth on Saturday, August 18. The space rocks, designated 2018 PL10, 2018 PO22, 2018 PK20, are expected to miss our planet at a safe distance.

2018 PL10 is an Amor-type near-Earth object (NEO) discovered August 7 using the Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) at Haleakala Observatory, Hawaii. It is an astronomical survey system for detection of dangerous asteroids a few weeks to days before their close approaches to Earth.

According to observations, 2018 PL10 has an absolute magnitude of 22.1 and an estimated size between 71 and 230 meters. The object orbits the Sun every 1.7 years at a distance of about 1.42 AU from it. On Saturday, at around 3:56 UTC, it will fly by the Earth at a distance of approximately 19.35 lunar distances (LD), what corresponds to 7.43 million kilometers.

Some five hours later, 2018 PO22 is expected to pass by our planet at a distance of 8.82 LD (3.39 million kilometers). This asteroid was first observed on August 14 by the ATLAS system at the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. The object’s diameter is calculated to be between 45 and 140 meters. It has an absolute magnitude of 23.1, has a semimajor axis of about 1.79 AU, and it takes it around 2.4 years to fully orbit the Sun.

At 18:50 UTC, 2018 PK20 will make a close approach to Earth at a distance of some 7.86 LD, or 3.02 million kilometers. This NEO was detected 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.

With an estimated size between 13 and 41 meters, 2018 PK20 is the smallest from the newly discovered trio. The space rock has an absolute magnitude of 25.8, an orbital period of 0.84 years, and is located some 0.89 AU from the Sun.

To date, astronomers have discovered more than 18,600 NEOs. Only this month 86 such objects were detected.

On August 17, there were almost 2,000 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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