By the time you are reading this the Earth will have had a close encounter with an asteroid. The rock in question is estimated at somewhere between 16 and 66 feet in diameter, based on the brightness of the object. If it entered the Earths atmosphere and impacted it would be about the strength of the Hiroshima bomb, about 15 kilotons.

However objects this size very rarely make it to the ground. The heat of their passage through the atmosphere usually explodes them and the smaller pieces either all or nearly all burn up.

What is interesting about this particular object is that it will pass less than 7,500 miles from the Earth. That is going to bring it inside the constellation of GPS satellites that orbit the planet. There is a thin chance that this way ward chunk of rock will hit one of them, but not a zero percent chance.

All of this is a great excuse for this nifty if more than a little hyperbolic animation from YouTube. You can find it below.

The first part is a view of the orbit of this rock, and the bend that the Earth’s gravitational field is expected to put on it (basically it is going to make a hair-pin turn around us and shoot off in a totally new direction).

The second is a asteroids view of the slingshot orbit, going by the South Pole, then swinging up and away from the Earth to the north.

The final animation is shows the position of the GPS satellites as the asteroid goes by. As I said at the beginning by now we know that it has passed the Earth without incident but it is always noteworthy when one of these events happens.

Just for those who are curious, the closest one of these objects have come without hitting the Earth has been 4,500 miles, which is damned close.

So, what is on your minds tonight Firedogs? The floor is yours!

Bill Egnor

Bill Egnor

I am a life long Democrat from a political family. Work wise I am a Six Sigma Black Belt (process improvement project manager) and Freelance reporter for Govtrak.org

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