Saturday, February 12, 2011

One of the Closest Asteroids to Earth on Record

Asteroid "2011 CQ1" Made the Closest Near-Earth Miss on Record

On Friday Feb 11, 2011, a meter-sized asteroid called 2011 CQ1 was observed streaking only 5480 kilometres above the Earth's surface -the closest near miss on record, beating the previous record holder, a rock that buzzed Earth in 2004 called 2004 FU162, by a few hundred kilometres.

The approach was so close that the little asteroid's path bent by 60 degrees by Earth's gravity, the biggest orbital change ever recorded by observers., reported Don Yeomans of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.Prior to the Earth close approach, he added, this object was in a so-called Apollo-class orbit that was mostly outside the Earth's orbit. Following the close approach, the Earth's gravitational attraction modified the object's orbit to an a ten-class orbit where the asteroid spends almost all of its time inside the Earth's orbit.

"We'll probably never be close enough to it again to be able to pick its dim light out from the background of stars," said Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society.

Source: NASA
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