Thursday, 16 January 2014

Asteroid 2014 AD16 passes by the Earth.

Asteroid 2014 AD16 passed by the Earth at a distance of approximately 577 100 km (roughly 1.54 time the average distance between the Earth and the Moon) at about 10.25 am GMT on Wednesday 8 January 2014. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, and had it done so it would have presented little threat. 2014 AD16 is estimated to be between 6 and 20 m in diameter, and an object of this size would be expected to break up between 37 and 22 km above the Earth's surface, with only fragmentary material reaching the ground.

The calculated orbit of 2014 AD16. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2014 AD16 was discovered on 3 January 2014 (5 days before its closest pass of the Earth) 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 2014 ADF16 implies that the asteroid was the 404th object discovered in the first half  of January 2014 (period 2014 A).

2014 AD16 has an 598 day orbital period and an eccentric orbit that takes it from 0.88 AU from the Sun (i.e. 88% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) to 1.89 AU from the Sun (i.e. 189% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, considerably outside orbit of the planet Mars). It is therefore classed as an Apollo Group Asteroid (an asteroid that is on average further from the Sun than the Earth, but which does get closer). This orbital path causes it to cross the orbit of Earth twice on Each circuit of the Sun, so that it sometimes has two close encounters with the Earth in a single year. It is predicted that 2014 AD16 will pass the Earth at a distance of 61 900 000 km on 28 May 2014.

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