DEC 26, 2015 8:48 AM PST

An Asteroid Safely Passed Earth on Christmas Eve

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Every so often, asteroids and other large pieces of space rock and junk come very close to Earth, but fortunately, many of them don’t collide. Most smaller objects get burned up in the atmosphere, but larger objects could mean distaster.
 
On Christmas Eve day, NASA observed a 3,600-mile-wide asteroid named 2003 SD220 as it passed within 6.8 million miles of Earth. Seeing as how that’s such a long distance, it shouldn’t be much of a problem, but it’s not this specific event that has scientists on their toes; it’s the fact that it’ll be coming back in the future.
 
Below, you can see images of the Christmas Eve asteroid, which were taken by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California:
 

This 3600-foot asteroid passed Earth on Christmas Eve.


"The radar images data suggest that asteroid 2003 SD220 is highly elongated and at least 3,600 feet [1,100 meters] in length," said Lance Benner of JPL, who leads NASA's asteroid radar research program. "The data acquired during this pass of the asteroid will help us plan for radar imaging during its upcoming closer approach in 2018."
 
NASA says that this same asteroid will come even closer to Earth in 2018 – 1.8 million miles away, and that in 2070, the asteroid will come at least 1.7 million miles near Earth. Fortunately, in all of these events, the asteroid will pass safely without any collisions.
 
In comparison, the Moon is 238,900 miles away from the Earth, or one lunar distance.
"There is no cause for concern over the upcoming flyby of asteroid 2003 SD220 this Christmas Eve," said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Center for NEO Studies at JPL. "The closest this object will come to Santa and his eight tiny reindeer is about 28 times the distance between Earth and the moon."

A large space rock recently passed the Earth on Halloween of this year too, which scientists also observed up close. Unlike this week’s asteroid, which was significantly further away, the Halloween asteroid passed much closer, at just under 311,000 miles away from Earth.

Source: NASA

About the Author
Other
Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 18, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Supercomputer Divulges Immediate Formation of Moon
Supercomputer Divulges Immediate Formation of Moon
Numerous theories have evolved over the years as to how the Earth’s Moon came to be, with one early theory suggest ...
OCT 30, 2022
Space & Astronomy
A "Marshmallow" in Space!
A "Marshmallow" in Space!
In a paper recently published in The Astronomical Journal, astronomers have observed the lowest-density – or fluff ...
NOV 11, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Large "Planet Killer" Asteroid Found Hidden Within Sun's Glare
Large "Planet Killer" Asteroid Found Hidden Within Sun's Glare
In a recent study published in The Astrophysical Journal, an international team of researchers led by the Carnegie Insti ...
NOV 23, 2022
Space & Astronomy
JWST Images a Star in the Midst of Formation
JWST Images a Star in the Midst of Formation
This image can easily be mistaken for a planetary nebula, but it is actually an image of a young star in the midst of fo ...
DEC 06, 2022
Space & Astronomy
"Stellar Feedback" Limits Star Formation
"Stellar Feedback" Limits Star Formation
In a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal, astronomers have detailed how groups of stars can regulate their ...
DEC 19, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Future Moon and Mars Astronauts Could Use Microbes for Settlement Construction
Future Moon and Mars Astronauts Could Use Microbes for Settlement Construction
In a recent study published in Materials Today Bio, an international team of researchers led by the University of Califo ...
Loading Comments...