Saturday, 6 February 2016

Asteroid 2016 AK193 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2016 AK193  passed by the Earth at a distance of 9 157 000 km (23.8 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 6.12% of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun), slightly before 2.00 a m GMT on Saturday 30 January 2016. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though had it done so it would have presented a considerable threat. 2016 AK193 has an estimated equivalent diameter of 71-240 m (i.e. a spherical body with the same mass would be 71-240 m in diameter), and an object towards the upper end of this range would pass through the atmosphere and directly impact the ground with a force of about 500 megatons (about 30 000 times the explosive energy of the Hiroshima bomb), causing devastation over a wide area and creating a crater over 3 km across, and resulting in global climatic problems that could last for years or even decades.

 Image of 2016 AK193 on 15 January 2016 from Monteviasco in Italy. The asteroid is the point in the center of the picture. The longer lines are stars, their elongation being caused by the telescope tracking the asteroid over the length of the exposure. Stazione Astronimica di Monteviasco.

2016 AK193 was discovered on 15 January 2016 (fifteen days before its closest approach to the Earth) by the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey, which is located in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The designation 2016 AK193 implies that it was the 4836th asteroid (asteroid K193) discovered in the first half of January 2016 (period 2016 A).

The calculated orbit of  2016 AK193JPL Small Body Database.
 
2016 AK193 has a 296 day orbital period, with an elliptical orbit tilted at an angle of 17.4° to the plain of the Solar System which takes in to 0.63 AU from the Sun (63% of the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun and considerably inside the orbit of the planet Venus) and out to 1.11 AU (11% further away from the Sun than the Earth). This means that close encounters between the asteroid and Earth are fairly common, with the last thought to have happened in August 2015 and the next predicted in October 2019. 2016 AK193 also has frequent close encounters with the planet Venus, with the last thought to have occurred in August 2015 and the next predicted for June 2022. Although it does cross the Earth's orbit and is briefly further from the Sun on each cycle, 2015 XX169 spends most of its time closer to the Sun than we are, and is therefore classified as an Aten Group Asteroid. As an asteroid probably larger than 150 m in diameter with an orbit that brings it to within 0.05 AU (750 000 km) of the Earth, 2016 AK193 is also classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid. 

See also...

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http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/asteroid-2016-ah164-passes-earth.htmlAsteroid 2016 AH164 passes the Earth. Asteroid 2016 AH164 passed by the Earth at a distance of 26 660 km (0.08 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 0.02% of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun; 6660 km above the orbit at which the satellites supporting...
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/asteroid-2016-ao8-passes-earth.htmlAsteroid 2016 AO8 passes the Earth.     Asteroid 2016 AO8 passed by the Earth at a distance of 18 950 000 km (49.4 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 12.7% of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun), slightly before 0.55 am GMT on Saturday 2...



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