Saturday 2 November 2013

Asteroid 2013 UQ1 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2013 UQ1 passed the Earth at a distance of about 6 869 000 km (a litle under 18 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon) slightly before 11.00 pm GMT on Friday 25 October 2013. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, and even if it had done so it would have presented little risk; 2013 UQ1 has an estimated diameter of between 16 and 49 m, and an asteroid of this size would be expected to break up in the atmosphere between 26 and 8 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the Earth's surface.

The calculated orbit of 2013 UQ1. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2013 UQ1 was discovered on 23 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 UQ1 implies that the asteroid was the 41st object discovered in the second half  of October 2013 (period 2013 U).

While 2013 UQ1 occasionally comes near to the Earth, it does not actually cross our orbital path. It has an elliptical 754 day 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 2.3 AU from the Sun, outside the orbit of 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.

Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.