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.

The GEODSS Telescope.  Image Credit:  LINEAR

Original News Source: SLOOH Skylog