Monday, 9 March 2015

Asteroid 2015 DO215 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2015 DO215 passed by the Earth at a distance of 1 180 000 km (3.07 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 0.79% of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun), at about 5.35 pm GMT on Monday 2 March 2015. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though had it done so it would have presented only a minor threat. 2015 DO215 has an estimated equivalent diameter of 9-28 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 9-28 m in diameter), and an object of this size would be expected to break up in the atmosphere between 33 and 18 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the Earth's surface.

The calculated orbit of 2015 DO215. JPL Small Body Database.

2015 DO215 was discovered on 27 February 2015 (three days before 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 2015 DO215 implies that it was the 5389th asteroid (asteroid O215) discovered in the second half of February 2015 (period 2015 D).

2015 DO215 has an 482 day orbital period and an eccentric orbit tilted at an angle of 6.9° to the plane of the Solar System, which takes it from 0.97 AU from the Sun (i.e. 97% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) to 1.43 AU from the Sun (i.e. 143% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, close to 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 between the asteroid and Earth are extremely common, with the last having occurred in May 2011 and the next predicted in February 2019. 2015 DO215 also occasionally makes close passes of the planet Mars, the last having occurred in January 2013.

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