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

  • Asteroids can be devastating. Thats why Rep Rohrabacher has put forth the NEO Preparedness act. I posted the text of the bill as well as links to the committee members in congress who are considering the bill. It is being deliberated in the committee this week!

    Be sure to read the bill at my site and contact you legislator (who I have also listed) so that you can weigh in on this important issue.

  • SUV sized? What kind of MPG does that thing get?

    BTW SUV sized doesnt = dangerous, it = would have been great to see that thing burn up.

  • I'd bet that asteroid gets about 3,000 MPG. I wish I could go 17,000 MPH!

    On a serious note, that is staggeringly close. Imagine if that thing was maybe twice or three times the size and on target to hit our blue and green rock. 2 days is a very small margin. I'm sure that's directly attributed to the fact that it was a relatively small object.

  • I just went out and measured two SUVs. Mine measures 24 ft. and my neighbor's 26. I would say that SUV is a reasonable term.

    In my limited experience, asteroids typically end up being smaller rather than larger, thus I would much rather an author understate with a smaller comparison than sensationalize with the largest.

    If you read the entire article, it specifically notes that, contrary to usual thought, scientists are now learning that, given the right circumstances, even the smaller rocks can pose serious threats. I certainly would not call the recent Peruvian impact "not dangerous." That 13m crater could have just as easily been in the middle of a school building. That was created by a .2m-2m rock .. a very small object.

    Thank you to Action for Space for noting the proposed NEO Preparedness Act. This is a very serious issue, especially considering that scientists are having to adjust that dangerous vs. not dangerous threshhold.

  • They discovered this 2 Days before it passed less than a 3rd the distance to the moon? Doesn't that make anyone's sphincter pucker just a bit?

  • albiet it was an SUV size, no big deal unless it hit a major city or right off the coast to make a very big wave...

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