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Asteroid To Fly By Earth On Thursday

April 8, 2010

A newly discovered asteroid, 2010 GA6, will safely fly by Earth this Thursday at 4:06 p.m. Pacific (23:06 U.T.C.). At time of closest approach 2010 GA6 will be about 359,000 kilometers (223,000 miles) away from Earth – about 9/10ths the distance from to the moon. The asteroid, approximately 22 meters (71 feet) wide, was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey, Tucson, Az.

“Fly bys of near-Earth objects within the moon’s orbit occur every few weeks,” said Don Yeomans of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

NASA detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground and space-based telescopes. The Near-Earth Object Observations Program, commonly called “Spaceguard,” discovers these objects, characterizes a subset of them and plots their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program Office for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., operates the Arecibo Observatory under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Va.

Image Caption: Orbit of asteroid 2010 GA6. Image credit: NASA/JPL

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