Sunday, 14 September 2014

Asteroid 2014 RS17 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2014 RS17 passed by the Earth at a distance of about 4 103 000 km (10.69 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 2.7% of the average distance between the Sun and the Earth), at about 4.40 am GMT on Sunday 7 September 2014. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though were it to do so it would have presented a serious threat. 2014 RS17 has an estimated equivalent diameter of 43-140 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 43-140 m in diameter), and an object towards the upper end of this size range would be predicted to be capable of passing through the Earth's atmosphere relatively intact, impacting the ground with an energy equivalent to about 135 megatons of TNT (roughly 8000 times the energy of the Hiroshima bomb). Such an event would result in a crater about 2.5 km across, cause devastation on a global scale and would have the potential to affect the climate globally for years after the impact event.

The calculated orbit of 2014 RS17. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2014 RS17 was discovered on 12 September 2014 (five days 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 RS17 implies that it was the 443rd asteroid (asteroid S17) discovered in the first half of September 2014 (period 2014 R).

2014 RS17 has a 985 day year orbital period and an eccentric orbit tilted at an angle of 1.6° to the plane of the Solar System, which takes it from 0.44 AU from the Sun (i.e. 44% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun and slightly outside the orbit of Mercury) to 3.43 AU from the Sun (i.e. 343% 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).

See also...


Asteroid 2014 QP33 passed by the Earth at a distance of 14 330 000 km (37.47 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 10% of the average...



Asteroid 2014 QL365 passed by the Earth at a distance of 2 123 000 km (5.52 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 1.4% of the...



The New Horizons Spacecraft was launched in January 2006, and is due to pass through the Pluto System (Pluto is now recognized to be a cluster of at least six objects rather than a single large body) in July 2015. After this it is hoped that New Horizons will be able to adjust its path in order to visit one of the smaller bodies...



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