Asteroid passes Earth

2011-06-28 07:44

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Los Angeles - An asteroid with an estimated girth as large as a garbage truck soared within 12 070km of the Earth on Monday as it passed harmlessly over the Atlantic Ocean, according to Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The space rock, measuring 5m to 20m in diameter, followed the same near-Earth path that scientists had earlier predicted, looping around the planet in a boomerang-shaped trajectory, JPL spokesperson DC Agle said.

Its nearest approach to Earth was 30 times farther away than the International Space Station, which orbits the planet at a distance of 400km.

On a more celestial scale, the asteroid's closest distance to Earth was just 3% of the 400 000km separating the Earth from the moon.

An object about the same size as Monday's near-Earth asteroid, designated by scientists as 2011 MD, zips past the planet at about the same distance ever six years, according to JPL.

Even if an asteroid the size of 2011 MD ever entered the Earth's atmosphere, it would likely burn up and cause no damage to the planet, JPL said.
Read more on:    nasa  |  astronomy
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