Sunday, June 2, 2013

230m-wide asteroid will pass close to Earth on Tuesday

Asteroid 2009 FE will sail past Earth on June 4. The space rock is about 230 meters wide, travels at 8.81 km/second and will make a close pass of about 9.6 LD (Lunar Distances, one LD equals 384,401 km). That's much closer than the last major asteroid fly-by of 1998 QE2 on Friday which was at 15.2 LD.

This is a close approach, but there's no chance that 2009 FE will hit our planet. According to JPL Small-Body Database the asteroid once made a close fly-by nearly at the same distance as it will make Tuesday - on June 18th, 1932. Next noticeable visit - July 3rd, 2185 - we'll see it passing close enough to spark our attention (about 20 LD).

2009 FE is not the only potentially hazardous asteroid that we will see in upcoming months. Later this year in July a 48m-wide rock 2006 BL8 will pass Earth at 9.3 LD, followed by 2003 DZ15, 153 m in diameter (7.6 LD). In August get ready for even bigger object - 420m-wide asteroid 2005 WK4, passing at 8.1 LD, sparing our lives, for now.

The JPL Small-Body Database Browser provides data for all known asteroids and many comets. NASA's Near-Earth Object Program at NASA Headquarters, Washington, manages and funds the search, study, and monitoring of asteroids and comets whose orbits periodically bring them close to Earth. JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program Office for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

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