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Large Asteroid Passes Within A Few Million Miles Of Earth

February 18, 2014
Image Caption: A 100-degree view of the night sky with asteroid 2000 EM26 shown as the red dot just west of the Bootes constellation. Credit: SLOOH

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

The Earth faced a “close-call” on Monday night as near-Earth asteroid 2000 EM26 came within a couple million miles of the planet, nearly a year after the Chelyabinsk meteor exploded over Russia.

The asteroid, which was estimated to be about the size of three football fields, whizzed by Earth last night at a distance of 2.1 million miles and traveling at about 27,000 mph. Slooh provided a broadcast of the event so online spectators could watch as the NEA made its way past our planet.

“We continue to discover these Potentially Hazardous Asteroids ­ sometimes only days before they make their close approaches to Earth. Slooh’s asteroid research campaign is gathering momentum with Slooh members using the Slooh robotic telescopes to monitor this huge population of potentially hazardous space rocks. We need to find them before they find us,” Paul Cox, Slooh’s Technical and Research Director, said in a statement.

Slooh was invited to be a part of NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge, in which the organization would help the space agency track and monitor NEAs every night and determine their orbits and impact risk.

“On a practical level, a previously­ unknown, undiscovered asteroid seems to hit our planet and cause damage or injury once a century or so, as we witnessed on June 20, 1908 and February 15, 2013. Every few centuries, an even more massive asteroid strikes us ­­ fortunately usually [sic] impacting in an ocean or wasteland such an Antarctica,” Bob Berman, an astronomer who hosts Slooh’s programs, said in a statement. “But the ongoing threat, and the fact that biosphere­altering events remain a real if small annual possibility, suggests that discovering and tracking all NEOs, as well as setting up contingency plans for deflecting them on short notice should the need arise, would be a wise use of resources.”

Asteroid 2000 EM26 comes a year and two days after a meteor rushed through the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia, damaging thousands of home and business windows as it exploded high overhead and causing numerous injuries due to shattering glass. The asteroid was estimated to be about 65-feet in diameter and exploded 18 miles above Siberia on February 15, 2013. Scientists found that it released the equivalent of more than 20 atomic bombs when it exploded.

At the time of the Chelyabinsk meteor, scientists were keeping watch of super asteroid 2012 DA14. This asteroid weighed about 40,000 tons and skimmed past Earth by just 17,200 miles.


Source: Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online



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