Saturday 13 October 2018

Asteroid 2018 EB passes the Earth for second time this year.

Asteroid 2018 EB passed by the Earth at a distance of about 5 918 300 km (15.4 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 3.96% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun), slightly before 1.25 am GMT on Wednesday 7 October 2018. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though were it to do so it would have presented a significant threat. 2018 EB has an estimated equivalent diameter of 86-270 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 82-260 m in diameter), and an object at the upper end of this range 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 about 4000 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb. Such an impact would result in an impact crater over 4 km in diameter and devastation on a global scale, as well as climatic effects that would last years or even decades.

 The calculated orbit of 2018 EB Minor Planet Center.

2018 EB was discovered on 1 March 2018 by the  Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer satellite. The designation 2018 EB implies that it was the second asteroid (asteroid B) discovered in the first half of March 2018 (period 2018 E).

2018 EB has a 374 day orbital period and an eccentric orbit tilted at an angle of 29.4° to the plane of the Solar System, which takes it from 1.00 AU from the Sun (i.e. 100% of he average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) to 1.03 AU from the Sun (i.e. 103% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun). It is therefore classed as an Amor Group Asteroid (an asteroid which comes close to the Earth, but which is never closer to the Sun than the Earth is). As an asteroid probably larger than 150 m in diameter that occasionally comes within 0.05 AU of the Earth, 2018 EB is also classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid. Close encounters between the 2018 EB and Earth are extremely common, with the last having happened in April this year and the  next predicted in April 2019.

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