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Truck-Sized Asteroid Passed Within 65,000 Miles Of Earth This Weekend

June 10, 2013
Image Credit: razlomov / Shutterstock

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

An asteroid approximately the same size as a small truck passed within 65,000 miles of Earth on Friday night/early Saturday morning, officials from NASA´s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California have revealed.

Asteroid 2013 LR6, which had only been discovered approximately one day before making its closest approach to our planet, was approximately 30 feet wide, according to Irene Klotz of Reuters.

At 12:42am EDT on Saturday morning (9:42pm on Friday night), the asteroid was four-times closer to Earth than the moon, with its approach coming above the Southern Ocean, south of Tasmania.

LR6 was discovered by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey, which is based in Arizona and regularly scans the skies searching for near-Earth objects, said Los Angeles Times reporter Deborah Netburn.

Officials from JPL said that the Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, California, would not be used to observe the asteroid because it would not be visible long enough to get a good look at it.

According to Netburn, Asteroid 2013 LR6 is approximately half the size of the space rock which exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February. That incident left over 1,500 people injured as a result of flying glass and debris, Klotz added, and occurred the same day when a second, unrelated asteroid (Asteroid 2012 DA14) passed within 17,200 miles of Earth.

Earlier this month, a much larger asteroid, the 1.7-mile-wide Asteroid 1998 QE2, passed within 3.6 million miles of our planet. Despite the fact that it was much further away, QE2´s size — 500 times that of DA14 — allowed astronomers to study it in detail and capture high-resolution images of both it and its moon.

CNN´s Ben Brumfield said that QE2´s fly-by “had astronomers less fearful and more excited about getting the ℠best look at this asteroid ever.´” He added that the tracking of the asteroid represented “a milestone in NASA´s Near Earth Object Project, which scopes out the heavens for potential danger from celestial projectiles whizzing past.”

“NASA places a high priority on tracking asteroids and protecting our home planet from them,” officials at the US space agency said at the time. As of June 1, NASA´s efforts were responsible for discovering more than 98 percent of all known Near-Earth Objects, they claimed.


Source: redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online



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