Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Asteroid 2014 HS46 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2014 HS46 passed by the Earth at a distance of 12 890 000 km (over 33 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon), slightly after 11.05 am GMT on Wednesday 23 April 2014. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though had it done so it would have presented a moderate threat. 2014 HS46 is calculated to have an equivalent diameter of 47-150 m (that is to say a spherical body with an equal volume would have a diameter of 47-150 m), and an object towards the upper end of this scale would be capable of passing through the Earth's atmosphere intact and impacting the planet's surface, resulting in an explosion roughly 9350 times as large as the one caused by the Hiroshima bomb, and the formation of a crater around 2.4 km across. Such an event would result in devastation across a wide area, and climatic effects that would last for several years.

The calculated orbit of 2014 HS46. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2014 HS46 was discovered on 24 April 2014 (the day after its closest approach to the Earth) by the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey, which is located in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The designation 2014 HS46 implies that it was the 1168th asteroid (asteroid S46) discovered in the second half of April 2014 (period 2014 H).

While 2014 HS14 occasionally comes near to the Earth, it does not actually cross our orbital path. It has an elliptical 616 day orbit, tilted to the plane of the Solar System, that takes it from 1.06 AU from the Sun (1.06 times the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun), slightly outside our orbit, to 1.77 AU from the Sun, (1.77 times the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, somewhat more than the distance at which the planet Mars orbits the Sun). As a Near Earth Object that remains strictly outside the orbit of the Earth it is classed as an Amor Family Asteroid.

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