Monday 18 November 2013

Asteroid 138095 (2000 DK79) passes the Earth.

Asteroid 138095 (2000 DK79) passed by the Earth at a distance of 18 850 000 km (a little over 49 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon) slightly after 5.25 am GMT on Sunday 10 November 2013. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, however 138095 (2000 DK79) is considered to be a Potentially Hazardous Object as it is estimated to be between 1.3 and 4.1 km in diameter, and such an object would easily punch through the Earth's atmosphere, impacting directly with the planet's surface, which would result in a crater tens of kilometers in diameter and potentially devastating effects on a global scale.

The calculated orbit of 138095 (2000 DK79). JPL Small Body Database Browser.

138095 (2000 DK79) was discovered on 26 February 2000 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The designation 2000 DK79 implies that it was the 1985th asteroid discovered in the second half of February 2000 (period 2000 D), while 138095 indicates that it was the 138 095th asteroid discovered overall (asteroids are not given this longer designation immediately, to ensure that numbered objects are genuine asteroids that have not been previously described.

While 138095 (2000 DK79) occasionally comes near to the Earth, it does not actually cross our orbital path. It has an elliptical 865 day orbit that takes it from 1.04 AU from the Sun (1.04 times the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun), slightly outside our orbit, to 2.51 AU from the Sun, considerably outside the orbit of Mars (though its orbit is tilted at a very high angle to the plane of the Solar System, so the the only planet it ever nears is the Earth), 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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