Asteroid set to make rare close pass by Earth on Friday

02-09 04:32

Space rock block party!

ESA

The " Super Bowl asteroid " garnered a lot of attention when it passed Earth right around the same time the big game kicked off Sunday. But another space rock is set to pass by much, much closer on Friday.

Asteroid 2002 AJ129 generated a lot of hype before it passed at a safe distance of about 2.6 million miles (4.2 million kilometers) Sunday. Part of the reason it got so much attention is that astronomers saw it coming. 

The more recently discovered asteroid 2018 CB, on the other hand, is smaller and will safely pass our planet at a much closer distance of about 39,000 miles (64,000 kilometers). NASA estimates the asteroid to be between 50 and 130 feet (15 and 40 meters) across.

"Although 2018 CB is quite small, it might well be larger than the asteroid that entered the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, almost exactly five years ago, in 2013," said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies. "Asteroids of this size do not often approach this close to our planet -- maybe only once or twice a year."

You may recall that the Chelyabinsk bolide exploded when it hit the atmosphere above Russia, creating a shock wave that blew out numerous windows on the ground.

Asteroid 2018 CB will pass closely by Earth on Feb. 9 at a distance of about 39,000 miles.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

2018 CB also comes on the heels of another recently discovered asteroid, 2018 CC, which came within 114,000 miles (184,000 kilometers) of us on Tuesday.

It's important to remember that while these asteroids are coming relatively close in space terms, they pose no threat to us. But perhaps someone should check to see if they might intercept the trajectory of "Starman" behind the wheel of Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster .

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