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Thread: Bus-Size Asteroid to Give Earth Close Shave: asteroid 2012 BX34

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    Default Bus-Size Asteroid to Give Earth Close Shave: asteroid 2012 BX34

    updated 2 hours 44 minutes ago 2012-01-27T15:18:53

    A small asteroid will make an extremely close pass by Earth Friday (Jan. 27), coming much nearer than the moon, but the space rock poses no danger of impacting our planet, NASA scientists say.

    The newly found asteroid 2012 BX34, which is about the size of a city bus, will pass within 36,750 miles (59,044 kilometers) of Earth at about 10:30 a.m. EST (1530 GMT) Friday, astronomers with NASA's Asteroid Watch program announced via Twitter.

    PHOTOS: Top 10 Ways to Stop an Asteroid
    The space rock is about 36 feet (11 meters) wide, making it much too small to pose a threat to Earth.

    "It wouldn't get through our atmosphere intact even if it dared to try," Asteroid Watch scientists tweeted today (Jan. 26). Asteroid Watch is based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.


    Asteroid 2012 BX34 will zip by at a distance about 0.17 times that separating Earth and the moon. The moon orbits Earth at an average distance of about 240,000 miles (386,000 km). [ Video and image of asteroid 2012 BX34's orbit ]



    While the near-Earth asteroid won't hit Earth, it may offer seasoned amateur astronomers a great show -- if they are in the right viewing location and have good equipment.
    "Advanced amateur astronomers might be able to observe the flyby as the asteroid brightens to 14th magnitude just before closest approach on Friday," the website Spaceweather.com reported today.

    PHOTOS: Asteroids and Near-Earth Objects
    In astronomers' classification system, higher magnitudes correspond to dimmer objects. The full moon, for example, has a magnitude around -12.75. A magnitude of +14 would put 2012 BX34 roughly on par with the maximum brightness of the distant dwarf planet Pluto.

    NASA scientists and other astronomer teams regularly monitor the skies in search of asteroids that could pose a danger to Earth. Experts estimate that asteroids measuring about 460 feet (140 m) across can cause widespread destruction near their impact sites, but they'd need to be even larger to cause devastation on a global scale.

    Last September, NASA announced that it had cataloged about 90 percent of the largest asteroids whose orbits bring them near Earth -- a major goal set by Congress in 1998. Using NASA's recent WISE asteroid-mapping mission as a guide, scientists estimate that there are about 981 near-Earth asteroids the size of a mountain or larger. About 911 of those space rocks have been spotted, WISE mission scientists said.
    Finding and mapping the orbits of such potentially hazardous space rocks is a task crucial to the long-term survival of our species, many scientists say.

    Throughout history, asteroids big enough to cause major damage and disruption to the global economy and society (were they to strike a populated area today) have hit Earth, on average, every 200 or 300 years, according to former astronaut Rusty Schweickart.

    Schweickart chairs the B612 Foundation, a group dedicated to predicting and preventing cataclysmic asteroid impacts on Earth. The group's chief message is that humanity's survival will someday depend on our ability to deflect a killer asteroid away from Earth.

    The dinosaurs possessed no such technology, of course, and a catastrophic impact wiped them out -- along with many other plant and animal species -- 65 million years ago.
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    Default Re: Bus-Size Asteroid to Give Earth Close Shave: asteroid 2012 BX34

    Bus-sized asteroid gives Earth close shave Friday[/b]

    By Tariq Malik
    Published January 27, 2012
    | Space.com
    [*]

    NASA/JPL-Caltech
    The newly discovered asteroid 2012 BX34 (whose orbit is represented by the blue line) will come within 0.17 lunar distances of Earth on Jan. 27, 2012, experts say.

    A small asteroid the size of a city bus zoomed between Earth and the moon's orbit Friday just days after its discovery, but it never posed a threat to our planet, NASA says.
    The asteroid 2012 BX34 passed within 36,750 miles (59,044 kilometers) of Earth when it made its closest approach at 10:30 a.m. EST (1530 GMT). The space rock is about 37 feet (11 meters) wide and would have broke apart in Earth's atmosphere long before it reached the ground, if it had reached the planet at all, NASA scientists said.

    "Asteroid 2012 BX34 is small," astronomers with NASA's Asteroid Watch at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a Twitter message. "It wouldn't get through our atmosphere intact even if it dared to try."

    The space rock passed Earth at a distance that is only about 0.17 times that between the Earth and the moon. For comparison, the moon typically orbits Earth at a distance of about 240,000 miles (386,000 km).

    "Asteroids this small are hard to spot, & luckily they pose the least concern," Asteroid Watch scientists explained. "Our goal is to find the bigger ones."

    [Video and image of asteroid 2012 BX34's orbit]

    In September, NASA announced that it has spotted about 90 percent of the largest asteroids (the size of a mountain or bigger) that can come near Earth. About 911 such giant space rocks have been confirmed. Astronomers estimate there are about 981 big near-Earth objects that occasionally creep close to our planet.

    Asteroid 2012 BX34 was the second space rock to fly relatively close by Earth this week, Asteroid Watch scientists said. On Jan. 23, another small asteroid — called 2012 BS1 — passed by the planet at a range of about 745,000 miles (1.2 million km), which is about 3.1 times the Earth-moon distance.

    "Asteroid 2012 BS1 is so small (about 7 meters) it would disintegrate in our atmosphere if it were to come close to Earth," the Asteroid Watch team wrote.

    Astronomers with NASA and other science teams routinely scan the skies in search of near-Earth asteroids that could pose a danger to the planet. Experts estimate that asteroids about 460 feet (140 m) across and bigger can cause widespread devastation near their impact sites, though a larger space rock would be required to cause destruction on a global scale.

    This week, scientists from around the world are also discussing how Earth should respond to the threat of an asteroid impact. The so-called NEOShield project is a European commission led by the German Aerospace Center and includes scientists from universities and industrial partners in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, the United States and Russia.
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