Entries in Asteroid (10)


Asteroid 2012 DA14 Makes Closest Pass to Earth on Friday

Hemera/Thinkstock (file photo)(HOUSTON) -- The asteroid 2012 DA14 will come scarily close to Earth on Friday, traveling from south to north, and passing closest to Australia, Asia and Eastern Europe.  Its closest approach will be at 2:25 p.m. ET.

The asteroid will miss our planet by about 17,230 miles.  To put that into perspective, the moon is 238,900 miles from Earth.

Professor Scott Hubbard of Stanford University, a former NASA manager, put it into more perspective: "You say 17,000 miles, that is huge.  But remember all of those satellites out there that give us our global positioning, that tell our iPhones where we are, those are at 22,000 miles, so it is going to pass between Earth and the satellites that give us Direct TV every day.  That's a close shave."

And that's why Hubbard, Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart and space station astronaut Ed Lu have become the Asteroid Hunters -- launching their own mission to find asteroids that could collide with our planet in their future.

"This asteroid is important because it is a wakeup call that we should be looking out there," said former astronaut Lu.  "Things do hit the earth."

The last big asteroid to hit Earth slammed into Siberia in 1908, wiping out a thousand miles of tundra.  Just imagine if an asteroid the size of DA14 were to hit an urban area like San Francisco, Chicago or New York.

Finding those life-ending asteroids is the challenge.

"The truth of the matter is of all the asteroids that are out there and come near the Earth and can do harm and hit the Earth, we only know 1 percent of them now," said Schweickart.  "Ninety-nine percent of them, we don't even know where they are."

So what are the odds of being hit by an asteroid?

"I will give you an example," said Lu.  "An asteroid hits the Earth in a typical person's lifetime, let's say your lifetime, with about a one in four chance.  I have a coin here, if I were to flip this twice and get heads twice, that is about the same odds as us getting smacked by an asteroid."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Post-Valentine's Day Asteroid Will Miss Earth

Hemera/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW YORK) -- Scientists are saying an asteroid, 150-feet in diameter, is due to swing by the Earth on Friday, Feb. 15, the day after Valentine's Day.

NASA officials contend the asteroid named 2012DA14 will come "a remarkably close distance" to our planet, if you consider 17,000 miles a stone's throw away.

Scientifically speaking, that is kind of close.  Realistically, we're not in any danger.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Potentially Hazardous Asteroid Flies by Earth

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A 1,650-foot wide asteroid passed right by Earth Thursday night, and a bevy of astronomers watched it live via an online streaming camera.

The asteroid, known as 2012 LZ1 is roughly the size of a city block, big enough to cause significant damage if it were to crash into the Earth, but not big enough to cause an extinction level event.

Fortunately for the planet, the 2012 LZ1 is what is known as a Near-Earth Asteroid.  It came close to the Earth, within 14 lunar distances or 3,343,970 miles, but it will not hit us.

The asteroid, which has been labeled as potentially hazardous due to its size and proximity to Earth, was discovered by researcher Rob McNaught and his colleagues who were working in their Australian lab on the night of June 10, 2012, when they spotted the asteroid.

McNaught was featured in the live stream broadcast Thursday night.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Asteroid Threat in 2040? Scientists Watch 2011 AG5

Hemera/Thinkstock (file photo) (HOUSTON) -- If an asteroid called 2011 AG5 follows the orbit scientists have plotted for it so far, there is a small chance it could hit Earth in February 2040.

Astronomers, who have been tracking the asteroid since January 2011, say it is in an elliptical orbit that could bring it somewhere near Earth in 2040.  Earth is about 8,000 miles in diameter; the asteroid appears to be about 450 feet across.

The problem is that having watched it for only about half an orbit around the Sun, the scientists cannot say for certain where it will be 28 years from now.  So, for the moment, NASA's Near Earth Object Program says the odds are about one in 625 that it could hit our planet in the still-distant future.

"We have a good opportunity to observe it next year and again in 2016," said Donald Yoemans, who heads the program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  "We fully expect that the odds will go way down, most likely to zero, by then."

In the meantime, it was a subject of discussion at a meeting in Vienna of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

The committee members agreed that 2011 AG5 bears watching, and could be useful as the subject of a "tabletop exercise" in what to do if, anytime soon, there really is an asteroid headed our way.

"In our Action Team 14 discussions, we thus concluded that it not necessarily can be called a 'real' threat.  To do that, ideally, we should have at least one, if not two, full orbits observed," said Detlef Koschny of the European Space Agency in an interview with

Scientists have discussed all sorts of far-out plans in case a future asteroid truly does turn out to be coming our way.  If they have enough lead time, they might send a probe with thruster rockets, or even explosives, to nudge an asteroid into a slightly different orbit. 

A very small course change, years in advance, could make a big difference by 2040, they say.  Even if the asteroid misses Earth by less than a hundred miles, its passing will be a non-event.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Large Asteroid Zips by Earth and Misses

File photo. (Hemera/Thinkstock)(HOUSTON) -- As predicted, an asteroid larger than the size of an aircraft carrier buzzed by Earth Tuesday evening, coming closer to the planet than the moon.

Had asteroid 2005 YU55 landed on Earth, there's no telling what damage might have occurred.

The 1,300-foot wide asteroid came a little too close for comfort, relatively speaking.  The speedy rock going at 29,000 mph was just 201,700 miles away from Earth on Tuesday -- a distance shorter than that between the planet and its moon.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Large Asteroid to Narrowly Miss Earth Nov. 8

Hemera/Thinkstock(PASADENA, Calif.) -- On Tuesday, a large asteroid will pass Earth within the moon's orbit, giving scientists a rare close-up of a space rock that could hold valuable clues to our planet's origins as well as our potential interplanetary future.

On Nov. 8, asteroid 2005 YU55 will come within approximately 201,700 miles of Earth, according to NASA. That's 0.85 the distance from Earth to the moon.

Asteroids often pass this close, but they are too small to spark much interest.

This one is 1,300 feet wide -- the size of an aircraft carrier. The last time an asteroid this big passed by was in 1976; the next one will be in 2028, NASA predicts.

Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif., said this flyby is an opportunity to learn more about c-type -- that is, carbon-based -- asteroids in case one is threatening to hit us.

It will also offer "clues as to what it was like when our solar system was forming," Yeomans said.

Asteroids like this one likely delivered organic, carbon-based materials to Earth, enabling life.

"Without objects of this type, we probably wouldn't be here," he said.

Moreover, c-type asteroids could be resources for future space exploration. Because they often contain water resources and the compound that constitutes jet fuel, they could help us build "fuelling stations and watering holes for interplanetary travel," Yeomans said.

This event is particularly exciting to researchers because we can, from the comfort of our planet, study an object we previously have needed to send unmanned spacecraft to study. And we now have the technology to make the most of it, unlike in 1976.

Asteroid 2005 YU55 is roughly spherical, spinning slowly and darker than charcoal, according to past NASA radar observations.

Amateur stargazers can take a look at the asteroid if they have a telescope with an aperture of six inches or larger.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bus-Sized Asteroid Barely Misses Hitting Earth

File photo. Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PASADENA, Calif.) -- A small asteroid, estimated between 16 and 65 feet in diameter, whipped past Earth on Monday -- missing by a mere 7,600 miles.

The space agency had earlier predicted no probability of the asteroid striking the Earth. NASA's @AsteroidWatch tweeted last week: "There is no chance that 2011 MD will hit Earth but scientists will use the close pass as opportunity to study it w/ radar observations."

But according to NASA, the asteroid was in a very earth-like orbit about the Sun, closer to the Earth than the Moon. And for a brief time, NASA predicted that the rock would be bright enough to be seen with even a modest-sized telescope.

Diagrams from the space agency indicate that the location of closest approach for Asteroid 2011 MD was between the southern tip of South Africa and Antarctica. But astronomers from Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and the western Pacific were expected to see the approach, according to

Asteroid 2011 MD was discovered only four days prior to its approach on June 22 by the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research discovery team in New Mexico.

NASA said that an object the size of Asteroid 2011 MD is expected to come this close to Earth about every six years on average. Scientists say that when Asteroid 2011 MD makes another pass in 2022, an impact with Earth is possible.

A larger, 1,300-foot asteroid, Asteroid 2005 YU55, is expected to flash past Earth on Nov. 8, 2011.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Asteroid to Pass Close to Earth Monday, Calif.) -- An asteroid will inch its way towards Earth on Monday but don't expect any scenes from the movie Armageddon to play out.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says asteroid 2011 MD will pass 12,300 kilometers, or 7,600 miles, above the southern Atlantic Ocean around 1:00 p.m. EDT.  Although the space rock is relatively small, measuring only between five and 20 meters in diameter, it will be bright enough to be seen with a medium-sized telescope.

According to NASA scientists, "an orbital analysis [of asteroid 2011 MD] indicates there is no chance it will actually strike Earth on Monday."

Even if it did enter the planet's atmosphere, they say an asteroid of that size would likely incinerate up high in the atmosphere, posing no threat to the Earth's surface.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Will a Huge Asteroid Collide with Earth in 2036?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Russian scientists claim the Earth may cease to exist as we know it in 2036 when, as they predict, an asteroid is expected to collide with our planet.

The scientists say Apophis, an asteroid measuring more than two football fields in length, will hit Earth on April 13, 2036.

One NASA scientist says the possibility exists that Apophis could hit Earth on the predicted date but he says the chances are about one in 250,000.

Back in 2004, NASA researchers speculated that the asteroid might strike the planet in 2029 but have since discounted the possibility of that happening.

Just in case, they'll be studying Apophis when it makes a relatively close appearance to Earth in late 2012 and early 2013 to decide what course of action will be needed if the Russian projection is accurate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Asteroid Alert: 30-ft. Rock Whizzes by Earth

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PASADENA, Calif.) -- The earth had another close encounter with an asteroid on Tuesday.

It was approximately 28,000 miles away at closest approach -- slightly more than a tenth of the distance to the moon.  The incident occurred Tuesday morning over southern Asia.

NASA's Near Earth Object Program estimates it was roughly 15-30 feet across, and says that had it entered the atmosphere, at 49,000 miles per hour, it would have quickly burned up. 

The last of these to be headlined by NASA -- two in 24 hours -- were just a month ago.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio