Sunday, 6 April 2014

Asteroid 2014 GS1 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2014 GS1 passed by the Earth at a distance of approximately 705 200 km (less than two times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon) slightly after 6.00 pm on Wednesday 2 April 2014. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, and had it done so it would have presented little threat. 2014 GS1 is calculated to be between 8 m and 27 m in diameter, and an object of this size would be expected to break up in the Earth's atmosphere between 36 km and 20 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the planet's surface.

The calculated orbit of 2014 GS1. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2014 GS1 was discovered on 4 April 2014 (two 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 2014 GS1 implies that the asteroid was the 43rd  object (object S1) discovered in the first half  of April 2014 (period 2014 G).

2014 GS1 has a 314 day orbital period, with an elliptical orbit tilted at an angle to the plain of the Solar System which takes in to 0.57 AU from the Sun (57% of the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, considerably inside the orbit of the planet Venus) and out to 1.24 AU (24% further away from the Sun than the Earth). This means that close encounters between the asteroid and Earth are fairly common, with the last thought to have happened in August 2009 and the next predicted in November this year. Although it does cross the Earth's orbit and is briefly further from the Sun on each cycle, 2014 GS1 spends most of its time closer to the Sun than we are, and is therefore classified as an Aten Group Asteroid.

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