BEACON TRANSCRIPT – On March 2nd, a small asteroid known as 2017 EA flew past Earth. What is amazing about it is the fact that is came closer to Earth than any other celestial bodies.
On Thursday morning, at 9:04 a.m. EST, 2017 EA flew safely past Earth, getting incredibly close to it that the astronomers watching it got a little nervous. It fact, it passed so close that it got inside the ring of geosynchronous satellites which orbit at 22,236 miles above the Equator.
Also, this asteroid approached Earth closer than the moon ever did. It was closer than the Moon is at an altitude of 14,500 kilometers above the east side of the Pacific Ocean and it flew out of the site of the ground satellites.
NASA declared that their Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), which was responsible with tracking comets and asteroids that approach Earth and was equipped with advanced computers that could establish a precise orbit for them, could spot the asteroid only six hours before its closest position to Earth.
The first to witness the approach of the asteroid were the astronomers who worked at Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona, which is also an observatory funded by NASA. Afterwards, many other observatories around the globe were able to spot the asteroid between its time of discovery and the time it reached closest to Earth.
According to the calculations performed by the astronomers at CNEOS, a hundred years will pass until 2017 EA will reach as close to Earth as it has just done.
There are many cosmic bodies that pass around the orbit of Earth every year, but many go unnoticed because of their distance. In fact, 2017 EA is the second asteroid to perform such a close flyby to Earth in only two months.
On January 9th, an asteroid flew past Earth at half the distance between our planet and the moon. The asteroid, called 2017 AG3, was the size of the one that exploded above Chelyabinsk in Russia in 2013.
That is between 50 and 111 feet wide and it had a speed of around 10 miles per second when it passed by Earth. The astronomers were able to spot it only two days before it flew by our planet.
CNEOS has a special monitoring system that analyzes the orbits of comets and asteroids that fly nearby Earth and they can predict if there is a risk of any cosmic object to collide with our planet. They established that the chance for the next century is less than 0.01 percent.
Also, none of the two asteroids that approached Earth so close posed to risk of hitting the planet.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons