Monday 14 October 2013

Asteroid 2013 TH69 passes by the Earth.

The asteroid 2013 TH69 passed by the Earth at a distance of 13 740 000 km (36 times as far away as the Moon) at about 7.45 pm GMT on Friday 11 October 2013. This is not a particularly close approach, and there was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, and even if it had done it would have presented little danger. 2013 TH69 has an estimated diameter of between 27 and 86 m, and would have been expected to break up in the atmosphere before hitting the ground, though an object towards the upper end of this range would probably make it close enough to the Earth's surface to cause some localized damage.

The calculated orbit of 2013 TH69. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2013 TH69 was discovered on 6 October 2013 by the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The name 2013 TH69 indicates that it was the 1733rd such object discovered in the first half of October 2013 (period 2013 T).

While 2013 TH69 occasionally comes near to the Earth, it does not actually cross our orbital path. It has an elliptical 3.82 year orbit that takes it from 1.07 AU from the Sun (1.07 times the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun), slightly outside our orbit, to 3.8 AU from the Sun, more than twice as far from the Sun as 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.

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