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The asteroid that passes by the Earth may appear larger than the Russian meteorite

    Abdulaziz Sobh
    By Abdulaziz Sobh

    Categories: Science


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    The asteroid that passes by the Earth may appear larger than the Russian meteorite

    A recently discovered asteroid that will fly safely beyond Earth today (February 9) may be larger than a celestial object that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, five years ago. The newly discovered intruder, named 2018 CB, is estimated to have a diameter of 50 to 130 feet (15 to 40 meters) and will fly across the Earth at approximately 2:30 p.m. PST (5:30 p.m. EST).
    "Asteroids of this size do not usually come so close to our planet, maybe only once or twice a year," said Paul Chodas, manager of the Near-Earth Object Studies Center at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the NASA in California, in a statement from The Agency.

    2018 CB is a small asteroid according to celestial standards; The largest asteroid in our solar system, Vesta, is approximately 326 miles (525 kilometers) wide. (The dwarf planet Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt 590 miles (950 km) wide, about the size of Texas, sometimes referred to as an asteroid).

    But as residents of Chelyabinsk discovered in 2013, something of the size 2018 CB can cause a lot of damage. That year, an object about 17 m (51 ft) in diameter exploded over the city as it rushed through Earth's atmosphere, breaking the glass and causing hundreds of injuries.

    The Catalina Sky Survey funded by NASA detected 2018 CB and another asteroid, 2018 CC, on February 4. While 2018 CB does not enter the atmosphere of the Earth, the object will buzz safely less than 20% of the distance from Earth to the moon.

    Coincidentally, the arrival of 2018 CB occurs days after two other asteroids passed safely through Earth. On Super Bowl Sunday (February 4), the 2002 AJ129 asteroid reached the planet at a distance of only 2.6 million miles (4.2 million km), 10 times the distance to the Moon. (The average distance between Earth and the Moon is approximately 238,855 miles or 384,400 km.)

    Then, on Tuesday (February 6), asteroid 2018 CC made its closest approach, 114,000 miles (184,000 km), approximately the midpoint between Earth and the moon. Astronomers, however, have known this asteroid since 2002. It measures from 0.3 miles to 0.75 miles (0.5 to 1.2 km) wide.
    Asteroid tracking
    NASA and its Office of Planetary Defense Coordination regularly search and track asteroids using several associated telescopes. The objective is to catalog all objects near the Earth that could represent a threat to the planet. At this time, the agency has not announced the detection of imminent threats. Publish all your asteroid findings online in the Small-Body Database Browser, which is freely available online.

    There are also several asteroid missions in space that are in progress or will take place soon, designed to get more information about how asteroids are formed and where they are located.

    NASA's asteroid-hunting telescope, NEOWISE, will complete its mission this year when its orbit carries the instrument to an area with too much sunlight for observations. OSIRIS-ReX, from the agency, and Hayabusa 2, from Japan, are on their way to different asteroids to collect samples for further analysis on Earth. Two new NASA missions, called Lucy and Psyche, will fly beyond eight asteroids in the years 2020 and 2030.

    NASA is in a constant search to catalog 90 percent of asteroids over 140 m (460 ft) wide that will reach about 4.65 million miles (7.48 million km) from Earth, or about 20 times the distance from Earth to the moon, according to the agency. In 2005, Congress commissioned NASA to complete this work by 2020, but several reports suggest that the agency will miss that deadline. However, NASA met the goal of Congress to find 90 percent of all near-Earth objects (NEO) that are 1 km (0.6 miles wide) in 2010.