Near-Earth asteroid passes over Atlantic Ocean

LOS ANGELES Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:51am EDT

The trajectory of Near-Earth asteroid 2011 MD from the general direction of the Sun in an image courtesy of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech

The trajectory of Near-Earth asteroid 2011 MD from the general direction of the Sun in an image courtesy of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Credit: Reuters/NASA/JPL-Caltech

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An asteroid with an estimated girth as large as a garbage truck soared within 7,500 miles of the Earth on Monday as it passed harmlessly over the Atlantic Ocean, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The space rock, measuring 5 to 20 meters in diameter, followed the same near-Earth path that scientists had earlier predicted, looping around the planet in a boomerang-shaped trajectory, JPL spokesman D.C. Agle said.

Its nearest approach to Earth, about 7,500 miles, was 30 times farther away than the International Space Station, which orbits the planet at a distance of 250 miles.

On a more celestial scale, the asteroid's closest distance to Earth was just 3 percent of the 250,000 miles separating the Earth from the moon.

An object about the same size as Monday's near-Earth asteroid, designated by scientists as 2011 MD, zips past the planet at about the same distance every six years, according to JPL.

Even if an asteroid the size of 2011 MD ever entered the Earth's atmosphere, it would likely burn up and cause no damage to the planet, JPL said.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Steve Gorman and Peter Bohan)

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Comments (13)
20 meters,is a little more than 60 feet,that is a six story building,NOT a ‘garbage truck’in girth.

Jun 27, 2011 9:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
discocrisco wrote:
Wow!

Jun 27, 2011 10:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
That really brings back memories..around (and I am using a ballpark figure for the year) 1965, a big one came within around 10,000 miles of the Earth (again ballpark)in the daytime around noon. The sky turned like night and all the street lights came on. It really scared the heck out of me. The old movie ‘Meteor’ circa 1959, was based on actual fact incidentally. We had been all set to shoot a nuke at it. This certainly is a Wow!

Jun 28, 2011 9:19am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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