Friday, 1 May 2015

Asteroid 2015 HC1 passes the Earth.

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. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though had it done so it would have presented only a minor threat. 2015 HC1 has an estimated equivalent diameter of 6-21 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 6-21  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 38 and 21 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the Earth's surface.

  The calculated orbit of 2015 HC1. JPL Small Body Database.

2015 HT10 was discovered on 17 April 2015 (twelve days before its closest approach to the Earth) by the Dark Energy Camera on the Blanco 4-meter Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in La Serena, Chile. The designation 2015 HC1 implies that it was the 28th asteroid (asteroid C1) discovered in the secondt half of April 2015 (period 2015 H).

While 2015 HC1 occasionally comes near to the Earth, it does not actually cross our orbital path. It has an elliptical 576 day orbit, at an angle of 1.97° to the plane of the Solar System, that takes it from 1.06 AU from the Sun (1.06 times the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun), slightly outside our orbit, to 1.64 AU from the Sun, (1.64 times the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun and more than the average 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. This means that close encounters between 2015 HC1 and the Earth are quite common, with the next predicted for June 2067. The asteroid is thought to also have occasional close encounters with Mars, the last of which would have occured in August 2011.

See also...

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