Asteroid 2012 KA to Buzz Earth on May 17

by Nancy Atkinson on May 17, 2012

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Orbit diagram of asteroid 2012 KA from JPL's Small Body Database website.

On the heels of a bus-sized asteroid that passed harmlessly between Earth and the orbit of the Moon on May 13, another asteroid between 4.5 and 10 meters (14-33 feet) wide will buzz by at about the same distance on May 17, 2012. Asteroid 2012 KA was discovered just today (May 16), and is projected to make its closest approach about 0.0015 AU, or 224,397 kilometers (134,933 miles, .6 lunar distances) from Earth’s surface at 19:43 UTC on Thursday. The asteroid was discovered by the Mt. Lemmon Observatory, and at the time of this writing, is the only observatory that has made any observations. Therefore JPL lists the uncertainty of the orbit as fairly high (9 out of a 1 to 10 scale) but orbital projections from JPL’s Small Body Database website confirms there is no chance this asteroid would hit Earth. However, most stony meteoroids up to a diameter of about 10-meters are destroyed in thermal explosions by plummeting through Earth’s atmosphere.

We’ll provide any updates as they become available.

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.

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