March 3, 2009

Asteroid Gives Earth a Close Call

On Monday, an asteroid the size of a rock that exploded above Siberia in 1908 with the force of a thousand atomic bombs whizzed by Earth, according to astronomers.

The Planetary Society, as well as astronomers' blogs, reported on Monday, that asteroid 2009 DD45, which is estimated to be 68 to 152 feet across, raced by Earth at 1:44 p.m. GMT on Monday.

The gap between the asteroid and the Earth was only 44,750 miles, which is a fifth the distance between our planet and the moon.

The size of the asteroid is estimated to be similar to one that exploded above Tunguska, Siberia, on June 30 1908, flattening 80 million trees throughout 800 square miles.

Last Saturday, the 2009 DD45 was spotted in Australia by astronomers at the Siding Spring Survey, and was verified by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center (MPC), which specializes in Solar System rocks.

The last flyby listed by the MPC was in 2004, a small asteroid about 20 feet across that came within 4,000 miles of Earth.


Image Caption: The aftermath of the Tunguska event.


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