Thursday 9 January 2014

Asteroid 2014 AF16 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2014 AF16 passed by the Earth at a distance of 2 389 000 km (approximately 6.21 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon) at about 5.10 am GMT on Sunday 5 January 2014. There was no chance of the asteroid colliding with the Earth, and had it done so it would have presented little danger. 2014 AF16 is estimated to be between 18 and 57 m in diameter, and an object of this size would be expected to break up in the atmosphere between 25 and 10 km above the planet's surface, with only fragmentary material reaching the ground.

The calculated orbit of 2014 AF16. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2014 AF 16 was discovered on 3 January 2013 (two days before its closest approach to the Earth) by the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The designation 2014 AF16 implies that it was the 406th asteroid discovered in the first half of January 201A (period 2014 A).

2014 AF16 has an 883 day orbital period and an eccentric orbit that takes it from 0.93 AU from the Sun (i.e. 93% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) to 2.67 AU from the Sun (i.e. 267% 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).

Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.