Monday, June 26, 2017

Newly Discovered Truck-Sized Asteroid to Fly By Earth on Tuesday

A near-Earth asteroid the size of a truck is slated to fly past Earth on Tuesday, June 27 at a safe distance of about 3.2 lunar distances (LD), or 1.23 million kilometers. The space rock, designated 2017 MA3, will swoosh by our planet at 7:37 UTC with a relative velocity of approximately 9.28 km/s.

2017 MA3 was discovered June 23, 2017 by Mount Lemmon Survey (MLS). The survey utilizes a 1.52-meter cassegrain reflector telescope operated by the Steward Observatory at Mount Lemmon Observatory, located in the Santa Catalina Mountains northeast of Tucson, Arizona. MLS is currently one of the most prolific surveys worldwide, especially for discovering near-Earth objects (NEOs).

Astronomers reveal that 2017 MA3 is an Apollo-type asteroid with an absolute magnitude of 26.7. The object has an estimated diameter between 8 and 26 meters, and a semi-major axis of approximately 2.35 AU. It takes this asteroid some three years and eight months to circle the sun.

In more distant future, 2017 MA3 is expected to make two other close approaches to Earth: on June 7, 2100 and Sept. 7, 2183. However, these two flybys will take place at a much greater distance than this week – over 45 LD (17.3 million kilometers).

On June 26, there were 1,803 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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