Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Newly Discovered House-Sized Asteroid to Swoosh by Earth on Wednesday

Credit: NASA

A newly detected house-sized asteroid, named 2018 RF8, is expected to fly by the Earth on Wednesday, September 19 at 6:02 UTC. The space rock will pass by our planet with a relative velocity of 15.8 km/s at a distance of approximately 1.39 lunar distances (LD), or 534,000 kilometers.

2018 RF8 was first spotted on September 15 by the Catalina Sky Survey (CSS). CSS is a project to discover comets and asteroids, and to search for near-Earth objects (NEOs), based at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Lab in Tucson, Arizona.

2018 RF8 is an Apollo-type NEO with an estimated diameter between 14 and 43 meters. The asteroid has an absolute magnitude of 25.7, a semimajor axis of 1.4 AU, and an orbital period of around 1.67 years.

Some three hours before the close approach to Earth, 2018 RF8 will also miss the Moon at a distance of some 0.61 LD (234,000 kilometers).

No future close approaches of 2018 RF8 to Earth or Moon are currently predicted by astronomers.

On September 18, there were almost 2,000 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 more than 18,800 NEOs. Only this year more than 1,200 such objects were identified.

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