Sunday, July 8, 2018

House-Sized Asteroid to Whiz by Earth on July 17

Credit: NASA

A newly discovered house-sized asteroid, designated 2018 NM, is expected to fly by Earth on Tuesday, July 17, at 5:38 UTC, with a relative velocity of 6.7 km/s. The space rock will pass by our planet at a distance of about 1.39 lunar distances (LD), what corresponds to 534,000 kilometers.

2018 NM is an Apollo-type asteroid discovered July 4 by the Pan-STARRS 1 (PS1) telescope at the summit of Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) is an astronomical survey consisting of astronomical cameras, telescopes and a computing facility, surveying the sky for moving objects on a continual basis.

According to observations, 2018 NM has an absolute magnitude of 26.4. The object has an estimated diameter between 9 and 31 meters, a semimajor axis of 1.5 AU and orbits the Sun every 673 days. 

On July 17, 2018 NM will also make a close approach to the Moon as it will pass at a distance of approximately 1.05 LD (403,000 kilometers), some two hours before the fly-by of Earth.

To date, astronomers have discovered more than 18,400 near-Earth objects (NEOs). Only this month 10 such objects were detected.

On July 8, there were almost 2,000 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) detected and none of them is on a collision course with our planet. PHAs are asteroids larger than 330 feet (100 meters) that can come closer to Earth than 19.5 LD.

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