Tuesday 8 October 2013

Asteroid 2013 RX73 to fly past the Earth on Wednesday 9 October 2013.

Asteroid 2013 RX73 is expected to fly past the Earth at a distance of 9 861 000 km (26 times as distant as the Moon) slightly after 0.10 am GMT on Wednesday 9 October 2012. There is no danger of the asteroid colliding with the Earth, and even if it did it would present no threat to us. It is calculated to be between 19 and 59 m in diameter, and an object this size would be expected to break up in the atmosphere between 23 and 7 km above the Earth's surface, with only fragmentary material hitting the ground.

The orbit of 2013 RX73. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2013 RX73 was discovered by the University of Arizona's Mt. Lemmon Survey at the Steward Observatory on Mount Lemmon in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, on 14 September 2013. The name 2013 RX73 implies the 1848th such object discovered in the first half of September 2013 (period 2013 R).

While RX73 occasionally comes near to the Earth, it does not actually cross our orbital path. It has an elliptical 582 day orbit that takes it from 1.05 AU from the Sun (1.05 times the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun), slightly outside our orbit to 1.7 AU from the Sun, a little way 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.