The U.S. space agency NASA released the first images of the asteroid is expected to pass tomorrow to just 27, 860 kilometers from Earth, the closest approximation of a cosmic object registered hazardous to our planet.
Asterroid on collision course with Earth will miss by 28K miles
On its Web site, NASA posted a animated sequence in black and white made up of three images that you can see the path of the asteroid when it is still 748,000 miles from Earth.
The sequence was created by astronomers Remanzacco Observatory in Italy, from photos taken by remote control by the Faulkes Telescope South at Siding Springs (Australia), according to the space agency.
The asteroid was detected by amateur astronomers affiliated Sagra Observatory (Mallorca, Spain) a year ago, when it was at 4.3 million kilometers from Earth, and the planet is approaching 28,100 kilometers per hour.
The space rock, the size of half a football field, is so opaque that astronomers can only observe its trajectory in the infrared range of the spectrum which reflects the sun’s heat
A new NASA survey has pinned down the number of asteroids that could pose a collision threat to Earth in what scientists say is the best estimate yet of the potentially dangerous space rocks.
The survey found there are likely 4,700 potentially hazardous asteroids, plus or minus 1,500 space rocks, that are larger than 330 feet (100 meters) wide and in orbits that occasionally bring them close enough to Earth to pose a concern, researchers said. To date, only about 30 percent of those objects have actually been found, they added.
Potentially hazardous asteroids, or PHAs in NASA-speak, are space rocks in orbits that come within 5 million miles (8 million kilometers) of Earth and are large enough to cause damage on regional or global scale if they were ever to hit our planet.
The new study was based on observations from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), an infrared space telescope. While the telescope data returned an estimate of the potentially dangerous near-Earth asteroid population that is similar to previous projections, it also revealed some surprising new results.
According to the survey, about twice as many asteroids are in so-called “lower-inclination orbits” — which are more closely aligned with Earth’s path around the sun than other objects — than previously thought researchers said. [Video: WISE Telescope’s Asteroid Census]