Big asteroid flying by, no threat to Earth

Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:50am IST

Related Topics

REUTERS - A large asteroid that flies in nearly the same orbit as Earth will make a close pass by the planet, but there's no chance of an impact - at least for hundreds of years, astronomers said on Wednesday.

The asteroid, named Toutatis, flies by Earth every four years. During its closest approach on Wednesday, the celestial rock will pass about 4.3 million miles (7 million km) from Earth, which is about 18 times farther away than the moon.

"There is no danger of a collision with Earth," NASA astronomer Lance Benner said in a statement.

The 0.6-mile (4.3-km) long asteroid circles the sun in an orbit that is very closely aligned with Earth's, making it a potentially hazardous object for the future.

The asteroid was first spotted in 1934 and its orbit was confirmed in 1989. In 2004, Toutatis passed by Earth just four times farther away than the moon, much closer than this week's encounter.

Astronomers are using radar and optical telescopes to get a better fix on the asteroid's location, its unusual spin and the flight path in hopes of refining estimates on where it will travel in the future.

"We already know that Toutatis will not hit Earth for hundreds of years," Benner said. "These new observations will allow us to predict the asteroid's trajectory even farther into the future."

(Reporting by Irene Klotz in Phoenix; Editing by Jane Sutton and Eric Beech)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

WORLD SHOWCASE

Algerie Crash

Algerie Crash

Bad weather seen as probable cause of Air Algerie crash  Full Article 

Russian Weapons

Russian Weapons

Russia transfer of rocket system to Ukraine rebels imminent - Pentagon  Full Article 

Gay Marriage

Gay Marriage

State judge strikes down Florida's gay marriage ban, stays ruling  Full Article 

Immigration Issue

Immigration Issue

Australia to ship Tamil asylum seekers to its mainland  Full Article 

Iraq Politics

Iraq Politics

Iraq's top cleric sends subtle message to Maliki - step aside  Full Article 

Flights Resume

Flights Resume

Lufthansa, Air Berlin to resume flights to Tel Aviv  Full Article 

Bus Restrictions

Bus Restrictions

China imposes airline-like restrictions on bus passengers in Xinjiang capital  Full Article 

Meat Scandal

Meat Scandal

In China meat scandal, McDonald's Japan switches to Thai chicken, no nuggets in Hong Kong  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage