Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Asteroid 2014 QD364 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2014 QD364 passed by the Earth at a distance of 2 332 000 km (6.07 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 1.6% of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun), slightly before 7.55 am GMT on Friday 29 August 2014. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though had it done so it would have presented only a minor threat. 2014 QD364 has an estimated equivalent diameter of 7-24 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 7-24 m in diameter), and an object of this size would be expected to break up in the atmosphere between 36 and 20 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the Earth's surface.

The calculated orbit of 2014 QD364. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2014 QD364 was discovered on 30 August 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 QD364 implies that it was the 9104th asteroid (asteroid D364) discovered in the second half of August 2014 (period 2014 D).

2014 QD364 has a 359 day orbital period, with an elliptical orbit tilted at an angle of 4° to the plain of the Solar System which takes in to 0.94 AU from the Sun (94% of the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) and out to 1.03 AU (3% 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 2013 and the next predicted in April 2015. Although it does cross the Earth's orbit and is briefly further from the Sun on each cycle, 2014 QD364 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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