Speeding, 900-foot Asteroid to Zoom (Safely) by Earth Monday, Live Stream Available
An asteroid the size of nearly three football fields will zoom past Earth on Monday and the so-called "close-approach" will be broadcast online for all to see.
The asteroid in question, dubbed 2000 EM26, is estimated to be 885 feet (270 meters) in diameter, and considered a "potentially hazardous asteroid." While it poses no risk of harming Earth, it's worth keeping an eye on, according to officials at the online Slooh Space Camera project, which will track the asteroid as it passes by Earth, broadcasting a live stream of the event here.
Slooh will begin its coverage of the close-approaching asteroid Mon., Feb. 17 at 9 p.m. EST.
Tune in quickly, though. The asteroid will fly by at an estimated speed of 27,000 mph, according to Slooh.
At its closest approach, asteroid 2000 EM26 will be 8.8 lunar distances away from Earth, according to Space.com.
Slooh regularly tracks large asteroids and comets considered to be potentially hazardous to Earth, and since 2003 has connected land-based telescopes to the internet for easy access by the broader public.
"We continue to discover these potentially hazardous asteroids - sometimes only days before they make their close approaches to Earth," Paul Cox, Slooh's technical and research director, said in a statement. "Slooh's asteroid research campaign is gathering momentum with Slooh members using the Slooh robotic telescopes to monitor this huge population of potentially hazardous space rocks. We need to find them before they find us!"
Monday's event happens nearly one year after two remarkable near-Earth asteroid events, one that astronomers knew about, and another that took them by surprise.
On Feb. 15, 2013, astronomers were tracking asteroid "2012 DA14" which Slooh described as "a 40,000 ton space rock, 98ft (30m)in diameter, due to miss Earth by a measly 17,200 miles (27,680 km) closer even than our geosynchronous satellites."
While all eyes were on 2012 DA14, another asteroid - one that was completely off the radar of astronomers - entered Earth's atmosphere above Chelyabinsk, Russia with a force equivalent to more than 20 atomic bombs. Residents of Chelyabinsk were lucky to have all survived the event, which caused significant damage to buildings, as well as injuries to more than 1,000 people, mainly from broken glass.
"On a practical level, a previously-unknown, undiscovered asteroid seems to hit our planet and cause damage or injury once a century or so, as we witnessed on June 20, 1908 and February 15, 2013," Slooh astronomer Bob Berman said in a statement. "Every few centuries, an even more massive asteroid strikes us - fortunately usually impacting in an ocean or wasteland such an Antarctica. But the ongoing threat, and the fact that biosphere-altering events remain a real if small annual possibility, suggests that discovering and tracking all NEOs, as well as setting up contingency plans for deflecting them on short notice should the need arise, would be a wise use of resources."
To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Chelyabinsk event, 10 gold medals from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics were embedded with fragments of the Chelyabinsk asteroid and awarded to athletes on Sat. Feb. 15.