Small Asteroid Will Pass by Earth Friday (Don't Worry, We're Safe.)

2018 CC orbit |         NASA  JPL-Caltech

Asteroid 2002 AJ129 came by the planet at a distance of only 2.6 million miles (4.2 million km) - 10 times the distance of the moon - a far greater distance than the asteroid skimming past earth tonight. Scientists estimated the asteroid was 50-100 feet in diameter.

Dubbed 2018-CB, the asteroid was scheduled to make its closest encounter with Earth at around 5:30 p.m. EST (2230 GMT), at a range that is less than one-fifth of the approximate 240,000-mile (386,000-km) distance to the moon, Chodas said in a statement.

Anything that comes closer than 4,650,000 miles of Earth is classified by NASA as a "near-Earth object" (NEO) and is classed as "hazardous". The Moon, for example, orbits Earth at around 238,900 miles. It had last passed by Earth on October 31, 2015, and it was at a distance of 480,000 kilometers from Earth. This asteroid didn't surprise astronomers too much. Many of them have been known about for years or even decades, but more are being discovered all the time. The asteroid is called 2018 CB. It measures from 0.3 miles to 0.75 miles across. That's still well within one lunar distance, but safe enough that it never posed a serious threat.

"Maybe only once or twice a year", he was quoted in a press release.

"Although 2018 CB is quite small, it might well be larger than the asteroid that entered the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, nearly exactly five years ago, in 2013", said Paul Chodas, manager at the Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NASA detects about 1,500 new near-Earth objects a year.

Additionally, the space agency has several ongoing missions in space that concern asteroid.

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