Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Small Asteroid to Fly By Earth on Wednesday


A newly discovered small asteroid, known as 2017 YD2, will pass by Earth on Wednesday, December 27 at 2:37 UTC. The object is expected to miss our planet at a safe distance of about 2.2 lunar distances (LD), what corresponds to 845,000 kilometers.

2017 YD2 was detected on December 23 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.

According to astronomers, 2017 YD2 is an Aten-type near-Earth object (NEO) with an estimated diameter between 3 and 11 meters. This space rock has an absolute magnitude of 28.7, a semimajor axis of approximately 0.84 and orbits the sun every 281 days. On Wednesday, it will fly by our planet with a relative velocity of 8.3 km/s.

Besides the close approach on December 27, 2017 YD2, will miss the Moon about four hours later at a distance of about 1.35 LD (518,000 kilometers). The asteroid’s next fly-by of Earth is expected on October 4, 2020, when it will pass at a much larger distance of approximately 64 LD.

On December 26, there were 1,872 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.

To date, astronomers have discovered nearly 17,500 NEOs. Only this month 127 such objects were detected.

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