Breaking News: Small NEO Could Pass Within 60,000 km of Earth on Tuesday

by Nancy Atkinson on October 10, 2010

Artists impression of an asteroid flying by Earth. Credit: NASA

A small asteroid will likely pass very close to Earth this week Tuesday. Astronomers are still tracking the object, now designated as 2010 TD54, and various estimates say it could possibly come within anywhere from 52,000 km (33,000 miles) to 64,000 km (40,000 miles) on October 12, with closest approach at approximately 11:25 UT. Information on the IAU Minor Planet Center website lists the object as coming with 0.0003 AU. The size of the object has not been determined, but estimates say it is likely smaller than 10 meters. We’ll provide an update as soon as more information is available.

UPDATE: Don Yeomans, Manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office replied to an inquiry about the object and said the newly discovered NEO 2010 TD54 is approximately 5-10 meters in size, and is now predicted to pass about 46,000 km from Earth’s surface at about 07:25 EDT (11:25 UT) on Tuesday, Oct 12, 2010. It was discovered by Catalina Sky Survey on Saturday morning.

“Only 1 in a million chance of an impact,” Yeomans said, “and even if it does impact, it is not large enough to make it through the Earth’s atmosphere to cause ground damage.”

The object may be visible to amateur telescopes as a 14th magnitude “star” — it will be traveling through the constellations Pisces and Aquarius.

Sources: IAU Minor Planet Center, Unmanned Spaceflight,Yahoo News Groups

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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