Tuesday 11 March 2014

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid 357622 (2005 EY95) passes the Earth.

Asteroid 357622 (2005 EY95) passed the Earth at a distance of about 10 180 000 km (over 26 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon) slightly before 0.55 am on Sunday 9 March 2013. There was no danger of the astroid hitting us, however were it to do so it would present a considerable threat, as 357622 (2005 EY95) has a calculated diameter of between 160 m and 5.20 m and an object of this size would be expected to be capable of punching straight through the Earth's atmosphere and directly impacting the ground, which would result in an explosion between 1000 and 10 000 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb, and leading to the creation of a crater between 2.5 and 8.0 km in diameter. Such an event would create devastation over a very wide area, and probably lead to climatic disruption lasting for decades.

The calculated orbit of 357622 (2005 EY95). JPL Small Body Database Browser.

357622 (2005 EY95) was discovered on 11 March 2005 by the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey, which is located in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The designation 2005 EY95 implies that it was the 2399th asteroid discovered in the first half of March 2005 (period 2005 E), while the number 357622 implies that it was the 357 622nd asteroid discovered (these longer designations are not given out immediately, to prevent false observations confusing the tally).

357622 (2005 EY95) has a 412 day orbital period and an eccentric orbit that takes it from 0.50 AU from the Sun (i.e. 50% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, between the orbits of the planets Mercury and Venus) to 1.67 AU from the Sun (i.e. 1.67% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, outside the 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). Due to its large size and Earth-crossing orbit, it is also considered to be a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid.