Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Asteroid 2014 KH39 passes the Earth

Asteroid 2014 KH39 passed by the Earth at a distance of 439 200 km (1.14 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon), slightly after 8.05 pm GMT on Tuesday 3 June 2013. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though had it done son it would have presented no threat. 2014 KB46 has an estimated equivalent diameter of 11-34 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 21-65 m in diameter), and an object of this size would be expected to break up in the atmosphere between 30 and 15 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the Earth's surface.

Image of 2014 KH39 taken on 31 May 2014. The asteroid is the dot at the center of the crosshairs. The elongate horizontal bars are stars; the elongation is caused by the telescope tracking the asteroid during a long exposure. The diagonal line is a satellite that passed across the field of view during the exposure. Gianluca Masi/Universe Today.

2014 KH39 was discovered on 24 May 2014 (ten days before 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 KH39 implies that it was the 983rd asteroid (asteroid H39) discovered in the second half of May 2014 (period 2014 K).

2014 KH39 has an 1315 day year orbital period that takes it from 0.95 AU from the Sun (i.e. 95% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) to 3.75 AU from the Sun (i.e. 375% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, considerably more than twice the distance at which the planet 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).

The calculated orbit of 2014 KH39. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

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