Sunday, 14 September 2014

Asteroid 2014 RT17 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2014 RT17 passed by the Earth at a distance of 1 427 000 km (3.69 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 0.95% of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun), slightly after 4.50 pm GMT on Sunday 7 September 2014. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though had it done so it would have presented only a minor threat. 2014 RT17 has an estimated equivalent diameter of 22-68 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 22-68 m in diameter), and an object of this size would be expected to break up in the atmosphere between 22 and 4 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the Earth's surface, though an object towards the upper end of this range would be likely to explode in the atmosphere with the energy of about 230 kilotons of TNT (about 13.5 times the size of the Hiroshima bomb), so being directly underneath it would probably be fairly unpleasant.

The calculated orbit of 2014 RT17. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2014 RT17 was discovered on 12 September 2014 (five days after its closest approach to the Earth) by the University of Hawaii's PANSTARRS telescope on Mount Haleakala on Maui. The designation 2014 RT17 implies that it was the 444th asteroid (asteroid T17) discovered in the first half of September 2014 (period 2014 R).

2014 RT17 has a 552 day year orbital period and an eccentric orbit tilted at an angle of 2.7° to the plane of the Solar System, which takes it from 0.51 AU from the Sun (i.e. 51% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun and inside the orbit of Venus) to 2.11 AU from the Sun (i.e. 211% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, considerably more than 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). This means that close encounters with Earth are quite common, with the last having occurred in February 1919. 2014 RT17 also has close encounters with other planets, having come close to Mercury in November 1964 and being predicted to come close to Mars in January 2055.

See also...


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...



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 distance between the Earth and the...



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 average distance between the Earth and the...


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