Friday, 8 May 2015

Asteroid 2015 FT33 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2015 FT33 passed by the Earth at a distance of 12 570 000 km (32.7 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 8.40% of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun), slightly before 6.50 am GMT on Friday 1 May 2015. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though had it done so it would have presented only a minor threat. 2012 FT33has an estimated equivalent diameter of 26-82 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 26-82 m in diameter), and an object of this size would be expected to explode in an airburst (an explosion caused by superheating from friction with the Earth's atmosphere, which is greater than that caused by simply falling, due to the orbital momentum of the asteroid) in the atmosphere between 18 and 0.5 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the Earth's surface, although since an object at the upper end of this range would be expected to release an amount of energy equivalent to about 27 megatons of TNT (roughly 1600 times the energy released by the Hiroshima bomb), then being directly underneath it might be fairly unpleasant.

The calculated orbit of 2015 FT33. JPL Small Body Database.

2015 FT33 was discovered on 18 March 2015 (42 days after its closest approach to the Earth) by the University of Hawaii's PANSTARRS telescope on Mount Haleakala on Maui. The designation 2015 FT33 implies that it was the 844th asteroid (asteroid T33) discovered in the second half of March  2015 (period 2015 F).

While 2015 FT33 occasionally comes near to the Earth, it does not actually cross our orbital path. It has an elliptical 783 day orbit, at an angle of 4.95° to the plane of the Solar System, that takes it from 1.01 AU from the Sun (1.01 times the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun), slightly outside our orbit, to 2.31 AU from the Sun, (2.31 times the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun and considerably more than the distance at which the planet Mars orbits the Sun). As a Near Earth Object that remains strictly outside the orbit of the Earth it is classed as an Amor Family Asteroid.

See also...

Asteroid 2011 EX4 passed by the Earth at a distance of 11 000 000 km (28.6 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 7.35% of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun), slightly after 1.20 am GMT on Thursday 30 April 2015...


The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower will be at a peak on Tuesday 5/Wednesday 6 May 2014, with up to 45 meteors per hour at it's peak, radiating from the constellation of Aquarius. This does not spend...


Asteroid 2015 HC1 passed by the Earth at a distance of 8 407 100 km (21.9 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 5.62% of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun), slightly after 10.15 pm GMT on Wednesday 29 April 2015...



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