Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Asteroid 2013 TO69 passed the Earth.

Asteroid 2013 TO69 passed the Earth at a distance of 7 967 000 km (20.7 times as distant as the Moon) slightly before 3.00 am on Thursday 24 October 2013. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, and if it had done so it would have presented little threat. 2013 TO69 is estimated to be between 13 and 41 m in diameter, and such an object would be expected to break up in the atmosphere between 27 and 10 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the Earth's surface.

The calculated orbit of 2013 TO69. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2013 TO69 was discovered on 8 October 2013 by the University of Arizona's Mt. Lemmon Survey at the Steward Observatory on Mount Lemmon in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The designation 2013 TO69 implies that the asteroid was the 1739th object discovered in the first half  of October 2013 (period 2013 T).

While 2013 TO69 occasionally comes near to the Earth, it does not actually cross our orbital path. It has an elliptical 4.16 year orbit that takes it from 1.03 AU from the Sun (1.03 times the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun), slightly outside our orbit, to 4.14 AU from the Sun, considerably more than twice the distance between the Sun and the planet Mars, so unless an encounter with another body causes it's orbital path to alter in a very specific way (highly unlikely) there is no chance of it hitting the Earth. As a Near Earth Object that remains strictly outside the orbit of the Earth it is classed as an Amor Family Asteroid.


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