Space

Asteroid passes within a cosmic whisker of Earth

Asteroid 2010 WC9 made a close pass by Earth on May 15, 2018 at 3:04 pm PDT (6:04 pm EDT, 22:04 GMT)
Asteroid 2010 WC9 made a close pass by Earth on May 15, 2018 at 3:04 pm PDT (6:04 pm EDT, 22:04 GMT)
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Asteroid 2010 WC9 made a close pass by Earth on May 15, 2018 at 3:04 pm PDT (6:04 pm EDT, 22:04 GMT)
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Asteroid 2010 WC9 made a close pass by Earth on May 15, 2018 at 3:04 pm PDT (6:04 pm EDT, 22:04 GMT)

The Earth just had a close encounter with an asteroid about 200 to 400 ft (50 to 120 m) across that missed us by a cosmic whisker. On May 15 at 3:04 pm PDT, asteroid 2010 WC9 came within 120,000 miles of the Earth's surface while clocking a speed of 29,000 mph.

Tuesday's flyby of an asteroid well within the orbit of the Moon may seem frighteningly close, but NASA says that there was no danger of a collision. To put things into perspective, remember that, as Douglas Adams said, space is big, really big. So, although 120,000 miles (200,00 km) may seem like an ear grazing, the distances and sizes are such that it's like trying to shoot a large orange and missing by 200 ft (61 m).

According to the space agency, this was the closest pass that 2010 WC9 will make for the next two centuries and it poses no threat to the Earth in the foreseeable future. The asteroid was first discovered on November 30, 2010 by the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona when it made its last pass inside lunar orbit and was tracked by the NASA-sponsored project until December 10, 2010 when it became too dim to see.

Calculations made at the time indicated that 2010 WC9 posed no threat of impact with the Earth, but its precise trajectory could not be calculated and it was put down as lost until last week when it was recovered by the Mount Lemmon Survey.

Source: NASA

6 comments
watersworm
Armageddon... failed, see you later (on dec 21th 2012 for exemple ?)
Buellrider
A much more interesting article, though moot, would have been what damage it would have caused had it hit earth. As the article points out, space is large and distances vast but that also implies that bodies hurtling through space care nothing that our earth may be on a collision course right now.
Rustin Lee Haase
So we play Russian Roulette every time it passes by. This time ... click ... Next time ... ??
John C Ky
Just to calm everyone down. The asteroid missed us by 15 Earths, or about 1.6 million asteroids, take your pick. You win no cigar.
bothib
That would have been a good time to try to hit one of those suckers with a rocket. Nothing explosive, just see if we could really hit one.
AngryPenguin
@Rustin Lee Haase We play Russian Roulette with a million cylinders, and a bullet too small to kill us.
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