Sunday, June 24, 2018

Half-Kilometer Wide Potentially Hazardous Asteroid Passes by Earth

Credit: NASA

A potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA), estimated to be about 500 meters in diameter, flew by the Earth on Thursday, June 21 at around 20:54 UTC. The space rock, designated 2017 YE5, missed our planet at a safe distance of approximately 15.51 lunar distances (LD), or 5.95 million kilometers, with a relative velocity of 15.5 km/s.

2017 YE5 is an Apollo-type asteroid discovered on December 21, 2017 by the Ouka├»meden Observatory in Morocco, which utilizes a 0.5-meter telescope. To date, the observatory has detected more than 1,000 asteroids. 

Astronomers reveal that 2017 YE5 has an absolute magnitude of 19.1, a semimajor axis of 2.82 AU, and it takes it approximately 4.74 years to fully orbit the Sun. 

Besides the June 21 fly-by of Earth, 2017 YE5 will also pass by Mars on July 30, 2018 at a distance of around 17.22 LD, what corresponds to 6.6 million kilometers. Next close approach of this asteroid to our planet is expected on April 15, 2037 at a much larger distance of about 93 LD (35.7 million kilometers). 

On June 21, there were almost 2,000 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. 

Astronomers have so far discovered more than 18,400 near-Earth objects (NEOs). Since the beginning of this year, 858 such objects were detected.

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