Sunday 6 October 2013

Asteroid 2013 SM20 to pass the Earth on Tuesday 8 October 2013.

Asteroid 2013 SM20 is predicted to pass the Earth at a distance of 6 974 00 km (18.15 times as distant as the Moon) slightly after 6.40 pm on Tuesday 8 October 2013. This is not a close approach, and there is no danger of the object hitting us, and even were it to do so it would not present a significant threat. 2013 SM20 is thought to be between 20 and 62 m in diameter, and such an object would be predicted to break up in the atmosphere at a height of between 5 and 23 km, with only fragmentary remains reaching the Earth's surface. 

The orbit of 2013 SM20. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2013 SM20 was first detected by the University of Arizona's Mt. Lemmon Survey at the Steward Observatory on Mount Lemmon in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, on 26 September 2013. It's name indicates that it was the 512th object discovered in the second half of September 2013 (period 2012 S).

2013 SM20 has a 284 day orbital period, with an eccentric orbit that crosses the orbits of the Earth and Venus, reaching 0.62 AU from the Sun (62% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun) at its perihelion (closest point to the Sun) and 1.08 AU from the Sun at its aphelion (furthest point from the Sun). As an object which crosses the Earth's orbit but is on average closer to the Sun than we are, it is classed as an Aten Group Asteroid. Its short orbital period means that 2013 SM 20 makes close approaches to the Earth quite frequently. It is lest thought to have drawn near to us in May this year (when it was moving away from the Sun, this week it will pass us as it falls towards the Sun), and it is predicted to do so again in October 2016.

Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.