Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Asteroid 2013 VD17 discovered after passing the Earth.

Asteroid 2013 VD17 passed the Earth at a distance of about 557 300 km (roughly 1.45 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon), slightly after 6.40 pm GMT on Monday 11 November 2013. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, and had it done so it would have presented little threat. 2013 VD17 is estimated to be between 8 and 27 m in diameter, and such an object would be expected to break up in the atmosphere between 36 and 18 km above the Earth's surface, with only fragmentary material reaching the ground.

The calculated orbit of 2013 VD17. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2013 VD17 was discovered on 14 November 2013 (three days after its closest approach to the Earth) by the University of Arizona's Mt. Lemmon Survey at the Steward Observatory on Mount Lemmon in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The designation 2013 VD17 implies that the asteroid was the 429th object discovered in the first half  of November 2013 (period 2013 V).

2013 VD17 has a 3.46 year orbital period and an eliptical orbit that takes it from 0.91 AU from the Sun (i.e. 91% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) to 3.67 AU from the Sun (i.e. 367% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, more than twice the distance at which Mars orbits the Sun). It is therefore classed as an Apollo Group Asteroid (an asteroid that is on average further from the Sun than the Earth, but which does get closer). 

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