Asteroid the size of a small truck buzzes Earth: NASA

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida Sat Jun 8, 2013 10:29am EDT

The first radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2 were obtained when the asteroid was about 3.75 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Earth, as pictured in this image courtesy of NASA. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR

The first radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2 were obtained when the asteroid was about 3.75 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Earth, as pictured in this image courtesy of NASA.

Credit: Reuters/NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - An asteroid the size of a small truck zoomed past Earth four times closer than the moon on Saturday, the latest in a parade of visiting celestial objects that has raised awareness of potentially hazardous impacts on the planet.

NASA said Asteroid 2013 LR6 was discovered about a day before its closest approach to Earth, which occurred at 12:42 a.m. EDT (0442 GMT on Saturday) about 65,000 miles over the Southern Ocean, south of Tasmania, Australia.

The 30-foot-wide (10-metre-wide) asteroid posed no threat.

A week ago, the comparatively huge 1.7-mile-wide (2.7-km-wide) asteroid QE2, complete with its own moon in tow, passed 3.6 million miles (5.8 million km) from Earth.

While on February 15, a small asteroid exploded in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, leaving more than 1,500 people injured by flying glass and debris. That same day, an unrelated asteroid passed just 17,200 miles from Earth, closer than the networks of communication satellites that ring the planet.

"There is theoretically a collision possible between asteroids and planet Earth," astronomer Gianluca Masi, with the Virtual Telescope project, said during a Google+ webcast that showed live images of the approaching asteroid.

NASA says it has found about 95 percent of the large asteroids, those with diameters 0.65 miles or larger, with orbits that take them relatively close to Earth.

An object of that size hit the planet about 65 million years ago in what is now Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, triggering a global climate change that is believed to be responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs and many other forms of life on Earth.

The U.S. space agency and other research organizations, as well as private companies, are working on tracking smaller objects that fly near Earth.

(Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Comments (37)
pavoter1946 wrote:
And what was the NSA doing to keep America safe from this potential ‘attack’? Oh, that’s right, busy monitoring telephone calls between Americans.

All right, asteroids are not the task of the NSA. But it simply goes to show there are threats out there all the time, yet we accept it. But scare people about terrorism, and people are willing to give up all liberty and freedom.

Jun 08, 2013 10:40am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Harry079 wrote:
To me it’s really scarey when a sitting President tells the country exactly what our Founding Fathers warned against.

Jun 08, 2013 11:27am EDT  --  Report as abuse
batchguy2 wrote:
What does ‘four times closer than the moon’ mean? I think Ms. Klotz is trying to say that the moon was 4x as far as the asteroid. In other words, the moon was 3x FARTHER than the asteroid. Or, the asteroid approached to 1/4 of the distance to the moon.

It makes perfect sense to say that object A is twice as far as B. It is also fine to say that B is half as far as A. It is also correct to say that A is 100% farther than B. Therefore, A is one time farther than B.

But B is not ‘two times closer’ than A. It is closer by one-half of the distance to A. So the asteroid could not be four times closer because you never can be more than 100% closer (i.e., at zero distance).

Science journalists should write more carefully and not contribute to innumeracy.

Jun 08, 2013 11:30am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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