Thursday, 3 August 2017

Asteroid 2017 FQ64 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2017 FQ64 passed by the Earth at a distance of about 10 860 000 km (28.3 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 7.26% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun), at about 3.50 am GMT on Saturday 29 July 2017. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though were it to do so it would have presented a significant threat. 2017 FQ64 has an estimated equivalent diameter of 120-390 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 120-390 m in diameter), and an object of this size would be predicted to be capable of passing through the Earth's atmosphere relatively intact, impacting the ground directly with an explosion that would be 60 000-1 650 000 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb. Such an impact would result in an impact crater about 4-5 km in diameter and devastation on a global scale, as well as climatic effects that would last decades or even centuries.

The calculated orbit of 2017 FQ64. Minor Planet Center.

2017 FQ64 was discovered on 21 March 2017 (122 days before its closest approach to the Earth) by the University of Hawaii's PANSTARRS telescope on Mount Haleakala on Maui. The designation 2017 FQ64 implies that it was the 1616th asteroid (asteroid Q64) discovered in the second half of March 2017 (period 2017 F).

2017 FQ64 has a 1044 day orbital period and an eccentric orbit tilted at an angle of 4.41° to the plane of the Solar System, which takes it from 0.97 AU from the Sun (i.e. 97% of he average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) to 3.06 AU from the Sun (i.e. 306% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, and almost three times as distant from the Sun as 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). As an asteroid probably larger than 150 m in diameter that occasionally comes within 0.05 AU  (7 480 000 km) of the Earth, 2017 MB1 is also classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid. 2017 FQ64 also has frequent close encounters with the planet Mars, which it is thought to have last passed in November 1937, and is next predicted to pass in April 2026.

See also...
Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.

No comments:

Post a Comment