Asteroid Flyby

The largest asteroid since 1976 zipped past earth last Tuesday.  NASA says a similar occurrence won’t happen again until 2028.

Radar image obtained Nov. 7, 2011, 11:45 a.m. PST when the asteroid was at 3.6 lunar distances (or 860,000 miles) from Earth. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A recent article in The New York Times notes that the asteroid, known as 2005 YU55, headed towards us at 29,000 mph (10+04) and came within 202,000 miles of earth (10+05), which is “…just inside the moon’s orbit.”

The impact of the quarter-mile long asteroid hitting earth, “‘…would carve a crater four miles across and 1,700 feet deep [10+03]. And if it slammed into the ocean, it would trigger 70-foot-high tsunami waves’” (10+01), according to Purdue University professor Jay Melosh.

The article continues, explaining that, “Asteroids are leftovers from the formation of the solar system some 4.5 billion years ago [10+09]. Scientists believe their growth was stunted by Jupiter’s gravitational pull and never had the chance to become full-fledged planets. Pieces of asteroids periodically break off and make fiery plunges through the atmosphere as meteorites.”

To learn more about 2005 YU55, click here.

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