Sunday, July 9, 2017

Stadium-Sized Asteroid 2017 MC4 to Swoosh by Earth on July 11

A newly discovered asteroid the size of a football stadium, designated 2017 MC4, is expected to fly by Earth on July 11 at 2:03 UTC. This near-Earth object (NEO) will pass by our planet with a relative velocity of 20.7 km/s at a safe distance of approximately 7.6 lunar distances (LD), or 2.9 million kilometers.

2017 MC4 was detected June 23, 2017 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 new NEOs. So far, it has detected more than 50,000 minor planets.

2017 MC4 is an Apollo-type asteroid with an estimated diameter between 82 and 250 meters. Therefore, the space rock was classified by astronomers as a potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA). PHAs are asteroids larger than 100 meters that can come closer to Earth than 19.5 LD. On July 9, there were 1,803 such asteroids detected, however none of them is on a collision course with our planet.

According to astronomers, 2017 MC4 has an absolute magnitude of 21.8 and a semimajor axis of 1.14 AU. It orbits the sun every 1.22 years. Last year, on July 16, this asteroid made a close approach to Venus, passing by the planet at a distance of about 77 LD (29.5 million kilometers).


  1. It is said to be discovered less than a month ago and in a couple of days it makes a close approach with the Earth. If it were on the collision course with us, there would be nothing we could do about it except for planning evacuation of the presumed impact area and other measures to reduce the effect of the catastrophe. Consequently, I see no reason in building the public awareness in respect to asteroid threat.

    1. what a very negative point of view.
      The reason it was found so late was that only terrestrial telescopes were looking. If the asteroid threat was been taken seriously, and more importantly funded appropriately, there would be space based telescopes with the sole task of detecting these asteroids. Being above the earth's atmosphere, being totally dedicated to asteroid detection, and more importantly systematically searching in all direction this asteroid would have detected far far sooner.
      The cost of sch a program would be a tiny fraction of the cost of rebuilding a town let alone a city.
      the reason public awareness should be raised is that its a certainty there will be a significant asteroid strike, and it will be far far cheaper to fund a space based detection program than the subsequent financial costs of an actual impact in a built up area without even considering the loss of life and casualties that an impact would cause

  2. I wonder if a Large asteroid was found and calculated to hit a city like Los Angeles in say 1 month, were too and how would they evacuate those people to be away from the resultant catastrophe that would follow?
    The chaos on the roads would be just crazy,how would you feed them,shelter them,etc
    The if the calculations where wrong and the asteroid either hit the sea or another city entirely that had not evacuated, such as Las Vegas or even somewhere on the East coast, the whole exercise would be for naught.
    I would love to see some sort of plan of action,but I think the best thing would be not to evacuate at all.

  3. The asteroid that finally impacts Earth is most likely to be headed outbound from the Sun with little or no warning possible between discovery and impact. What is really needed are space based telescopes in solar orbit at about the distance of Venus so that these asteroids can be spotted more easily and to give a much longer warning time.

    Early detection, even if we can do nothing to alter the course of the asteroid, would provide enough warning so that countless lives can be saved.

    Right now, we have limited means to deal with such a threat but in another decade that may change drastically as access to space becomes less expensive and more frequent.

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