An asteroid passed the Earth’s orbit and it was actually closer to the Earth than the Moon itself. Moving at an enormous 33,300 miles per hour the asteroid passed approximately 217,000 miles from Earth. The asteroid was 9/10 the distance of the earth from the moon which is 238,900 miles.
Named DX110 the asteroid safely went past the Earth’s orbit today afternoon. The expected time was 4:07 pm so unfortunately not many were able to witness the asteroid pass by. Although the live transmission was available for anyone to see on Slooh. Slooh is a telescope service that allows internet users to watch an event in space as it happens with the help of a few plugins. It was not the first website to provide easy access to telescopic videos but it was the first to provide a live screening of these events. The website tracked the asteroid as it approached for the first 15 minutes and the live transmission began around 4 pm.
The asteroid was first discovered in February by a survey made by Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS 1. Great Shefford Observatory in England carried out further observations and were able to determine the asteroids exact path. The Asteroid was almost the size of an average basketball court about 98 feet across and was around 17,600 pounds in weight.
Apparently this is not the firs time it has passed through Earth’s orbit. DX110 first came to visit back in 1982 and again on St. Patrick’s Day on 1998. During the 1998 crossing the asteroid came as close as 102,000 miles from the Earth’s surface. Many believe that these close approaches might have altered the asteroid’s path in a way. For this reason scientists expect the asteroid to continuously reappear after every 13 year interval.
It was stated that there was no need to panic as the asteroid would not come in contact with Earth and simply pass. This prediction came true as the asteroid passed by without posing any sort of imminent threat or danger. Based on certain calculations it can be said that the chances of it colliding the Earth in its 2046 visit are as slim as one in 10 million. Hence quite literally there is a one in a million chance of a possible collision.
If the asteroid were to collide with Earth, the outcome would certainly have been catastrophic. This is certain from the fact that on February 2013 a smaller asteroid, 65 feet across, crashed on Chelyabinsk, Russia and the results were certainly tragic. Around 1500 people were injured and the crash caused millions of dollars worth in property damage.
The task of identifying such potential objects fall under NASA’s The Near-Earth Object Observation Program which is otherwise known as Safeguard. Their core purpose is to track any celestial objects that might be on a course to or any where near Earth. This helps classify potentially dangerous objects from those that do not pose any danger.
The program however is not always successful as an asteroid, that earlier went unnoticed, was spotted heading towards the Earth and is expected to pass this Thursday. Again the asteroid will just cruise by without becoming hazardous in any way but will pass as close as 35,000 miles. There is also a one in 2.7 million chance that this asteroid might come in contact with Earth 11 years from now.
This asteroid appeared just less than a month after an 885 foot asteroid passed by but this was even further away from the moon than DX110. Through various observations it was observed that the distance between Earth and this asteroid was 8.8 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
Many might have missed the event or might not have been able to view it but based on repetitive appearances it will not be inaccurate to assume that this is not the last time these asteroids have made their presence known. There is a high probability that their orbit might cross paths with that of Earth’s in the near future and who knows, might even come closer to the surface than before.
By Hammad Ali