Thursday, July 13, 2017

Asteroid 2017 MR8 to Fly by Earth on Saturday

A newly discovered house-sized asteroid designated 2017 MR8 is about to give Earth a close shave on Saturday, June 15. The space rock will pass by our planet at 2:11 UTC at a safe distance of about 3.29 lunar distances (LD), or 1.26 million kilometers with a relative velocity of 6.9 km/s.

2017 MR8 was detected June 30 by the Mount Lemmon Survey (MLS), which uses a 1.52 m cassegrain reflector telescope at Mount Lemmon Observatory in Arizona. MLS is one of the most prolific surveys when it comes to discovering near-Earth objects (NEOs). So far, it has detected more than 50,000 minor planets.

Astronomers reveal that 2017 MR8 is an Apollo-type asteroid and an estimated diameter between 19 and 59 meters. The object has an absolute magnitude of 25 and orbits the sun every 1.76 years at a distance of approximately 1.46 astronomical units (AU).

One day after the fly-by of 2017 MR8, another close approach of a NEO is expected. The Apollo-type asteroid known as 2007 MB4 has a diameter between 59 and 190 meters and will pass by Earth at a distance of about 14.48 LD (5.56 million kilometers).

On July 13, there were 1,803 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) detected, however 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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