Another Asteroid Passes Close to Earth | Universe Today
Categories: Asteroids

Another Asteroid Passes Close to Earth

On Tuesday, February 5, 2008 an SUV sized asteroid passed between the Earth and the moon. Asteroid 2008 CT1 came within 135,000 kilometers ( 84,000 miles) of Earth, only a third of the distance to the moon. The asteroid was discovered only two days before its close approach to Earth, spotted by the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) project, using robotic telescopes located at New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range. The asteroid’s size is estimated between 8 – 15 meters.

While this asteroid seems small, we know that even small rocks can be devastating. Last September, a meteorite estimated at .2 – 2 meters wide created a crater 13 meters wide in Peru. The cause of the Tunguska Event of the early 20th Century is now believed to be a 35m rock that never even touched the ground. It’s believed that it exploded a few miles above the ground, creating a shockwave that devastated the landscape below.

2008 CT1 could possibly return to Earth’s vicinity in 2041, although its orbit has not yet been well defined, so that prediction could change. It is also a possible Mercury impactor, since that that planet is very near the asteroid’s currently calculated perihelion.

LINEAR uses a Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance (GEODSS) telescope, and has detected over 3,000,000 asteroids since 1998, which is about 70% of the known near-Earth asteroids.

Original News Source: SLOOH Skylog

Nancy Atkinson @

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004. She is the author of a new book on the Apollo program, "Eight Years to the Moon," which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible. Her first book, "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond.

View Comments

  • I don't understand it, I'm a star gazer and I knew instantly when I looked up that that "fuzzy spot" did not belong where I was seeing it. If I had not happened to catch a small article in the paper a few days later about a near earth asteroid I would have convinced myself I was seeing things. How can an asteroid so close it looks like a comet be blown off like it was nothing? It was beautiful, and ignored. I did not happen to note the exact weekend that I saw this, but am amazed that there is not more about the siting, it was as beautiful as the last comet that went by. Where are the pictures?

  • Yeah, uh, I doubt that. The only way the "shooting star" phenomenon can take place is for a rock or other object to be slamming into the atmosphere with intense friction and g-forces. This asteroid was a third of the distance to the moon away from the planet. You probably saw a plane, David.

  • So this is what I saw? Around 6PM PST? Right? If so, the sun had just about set, and while driving down the 405 w/ no stars out yet, in the Southern sky, I saw a HUGE, slowish moving "shooting star." Amazing.

  • Just a back of a fag-packet calculation :-
    From NEO website - Diameter 8.2 to18 metres - Call it 13m. Relative velocity =13.98 Km/Sec.
    Typical rock density = 2.5 tonnes/m^3.
    So mass of rock = 3300 tonnes.
    That makes the energy on impact around the equavalent of 7700 tons of TNT.

  • The picture of Dactyl, Ida's tiny moon, is a tactic the major TV news networks use. A picture unrelated to the story. An illustration of this tiny rock would have been better idea.

  • the dangers that our earth is continually exposed to allien large rocks highlights once again the need to be prepared and to take actions to prevent these cataclysmic events yet this asteroid was able to skim the planet undetected our technology should be more directed i believe towards being prepared and able to take counter action against these hazards and less against fighting wars amongst ourselves.

  • if the meteor that hit peru was 2m and caused a crater 15m wide then this one could have caused a crater up to 100m wide if it had hit... thats a mighty big hole... and we arnt worried???? maybe it would be beter to have only a couple of days warning and get it all over with rather than a few months or years?

  • Its important to note here that as the search for dangerous asteroids becomes more mature, and the tools and techniques get better, and the power/efficiency of CCD cameras improves: We are find smaller and smaller asteroids.

    I think the record for the smallest found is about 4 Meters wide now. Something that small hits the atmosphere every few years. So its only a matter of time now before our hard working astronomers pick up an incoming "boggie".

    I don't think people appreciate how much work has gone into the approach and how refined the system has become in these past few years. It will never catch everything, but the process of the hunt, the governance and the credibility of the process used is a great achievement and a credit to all involved.

    At least we have a credible process to assist manage the innevitable, the public response to it and the media's sensationalism of it.

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