Monday, August 14, 2017

Asteroid 2017 PK25 Flew Past Earth Today

An asteroid discovered just two days ago safely flew past Earth today at 2:08 UTC at a distance of 2.2 lunar distances (LD), or 845,000 kilometers. The object, known as 2017 PK25, missed our planet with a relative velocity of approximately 16 km/s.

2017 PK25 was first observed by the Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) at the Mauna Loa Observatory (MLO), 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 astronomers, 2017 PK25 has an estimated diameter between 23 and 52 meters, and an absolute magnitude of 25.3. The asteroid has a semimajor axis of 0.81 and it takes it about 266 days to fully circle the sun.

Besides passing today near our planet, the asteroid also missed the moon few hours earlier at nearly identical distance of about 2.1 LD. Next close approach of 2017 PK25 is expected on Aug. 4, 2020 when it will whiz by Earth at a much larger distance of 133 LD.

Currently, there are 1,803 potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) detected to date. PHAs are space rocks larger than approximately 100 meters that can come closer to Earth than 19.5 LD. However, none of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet.

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