Saturday, October 7, 2017

Newly Discovered House-Sized Asteroid Passes by Earth

A newly detected house-sized asteroid, designated 2017 TA, whizzed by Earth on Friday, October 6 at 21:32 UTC with a velocity of 11.32 km/s. The object missed our planet at a distance of approximately 2.66 lunar distances (LD), or 1.02 million kilometers.

2017 TA was first spotted on October 3, 2017 by the Mount Lemmon Survey (MLS), which utilizes 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.

Recent observations reveal that 2017 TA is an Apollo-type asteroid with an estimated diameter between 21 and 65 meters. This NEO has an absolute magnitude of 24.8, a semimajor axis of approximately 1.3 AU and orbits the sun every 1.48 years.

About two and a half hours before Friday’s fly-by, 2017 TA missed also the Moon at a distance of nearly 3 LD. Next close approach of this asteroid to Earth is expected on September 27, 2020 when it will pass by our planet at 44 LD.

On October 7, 2017 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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