Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Close Encounter: Earth-Asteroid Near Miss

The Earth has had a near miss this week when a huge asteroid whizzed past, less than 50,000 miles away.


The asteroid had been spotted by astronomers monitoring the skies

The asteroid - about the size of a 10-storey building - flew past the Earth at roughly twice the distance of the highest Earth-orbiting satellites, according to website

It is similar in size to a rock that exploded above Siberia in 1908, flattening 80 million trees across an 800 square mile area.

The impact had the force of a thousand atomic bombs, astronomers say.

Asteroid 2009 DD45 was closest to the earth on Monday at around 8.30am, at just under 45,000 miles above the surface of the planet.

Astronomers knew it was coming after it was spotted last Saturday as a faint dot showing up in pictures at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia.

There was never any risk of collision, experts said, but anything flying within 50,000 miles of the Earth is taken very seriously.

The closest listed "flyby" to Earth by an asteroid happened in March 2004 when a small one - 2004 FU162 - measuring about 20 feet across came within about 4,000 miles of the earth.

Asteroids are rocks ranging in size from a few feet to several miles in diameter.

Most of them orbit the sun in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

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