Newly Discovered Asteroid Will Pass by Earth April 8

by Nancy Atkinson on April 6, 2010

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

Good to know the Spaceguard teams are keeping an eye out for us. The eagle-eyed observers at the Catalina Sky Survey have spotted an asteroid which will pass relatively close to Earth this Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 23:06 U.T.C. (4:06 p.m. PDT, 7:06 pm EDT). But it should pose no problem, as at the time of closest approach asteroid 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 is approximately 22 meters (71 feet) wide.

“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.

This one, however, is a bit bigger than other recent asteroid alerts NASA’s Near Earth Observation program has issued. In November 2009, a 7-meter asteroid called 2009 VA came within 14,000 km (8,700 miles) of Earth and in January, 2010 AL30 was about 10-15 meters long and came within only 128,000 km (about 80,000 miles).

NASA’s NEO program, also 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.

So while you’re waiting for this one to pass by you can read Don Yeoman’s top ten favorite asteroid facts.

The Catalina telescope is in Tucson, Arizona.

For more information about asteroids and near-Earth objects, visit NASA’s Asteroid Watch page.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Maxwell April 6, 2010 at 5:43 PM

Bullets fly within a few hundred miles of my head every day.

…For some reason, I’m still concerned about that.

Hon. Salacious B. Crumb April 7, 2010 at 1:31 AM

Bah! A far as 359,000 kilometers (223,000 miles) and it is 22 metres across, eh?

It misses the Earth by 352,621,900 times the radii of the object.* Hummm…. 352 million times! Miss. Good gracious it isn’t even in the ballpark!

Won’t be losing much sleep about that one, methinks!

*[(359000-12756.2) x 1000/22]

9812713 April 7, 2010 at 4:03 AM

It’s coming straight for us… Shoot it..

Marc Tiedemann April 7, 2010 at 5:08 AM

Where can I see where exactly it will pass? Maybe I can try to watch it with my telescope^^

xjpzzz April 8, 2010 at 3:05 AM

As I understand it, the asteroid that is heading towards the earth is probably not going to impact it directly. The asteroids path is going to be about as far away from the earth as the moon is. In fact the asteroid is going to be almost exactly as far away from the earth as the moon is. So let me see if I have this right; the asteroid is going to cross the moons path. I wonder just how close the asteroid is coming to the moon. If the asteroid was to hit the moon, might it push the moon out of its orbit? This could create a serious set of consequences, and sounds to me like a bad thing.

quack April 8, 2010 at 7:30 PM

but wasn’t it spotted just days ago!????

spaceminer April 12, 2010 at 1:48 AM

Just think of the possible platinum (for starters) on board this 71 chunk of rock. Why is there no real plan to at least try to concentrate these rare earth metals and return them to earth for a profit before we try to go to Mars which will take mountains of money to begin with. In the thirty years it took to put up this space station we could have already seen a return from a near earth roid mining operation, easy and then been on our way back from Mars by now.

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