A giant asteroid – almost 100 feet in diameter – squeezed past us earlier this morning, precariously close to our moon and within a whisper (astronomically speaking) of mother Earth.
Christened Asteroid 2014 DX110, the outer space visitor remained at a ‘safe’ distance from our planet, with its closest shave with our blue planet estimated to be 350,000km away.
That’s great news, actually, because at the speed that it was travelling (53,100km per hour), even a fraction of a detour could have led to massive jitters.
Watch the asteroid 'live' here:
The celestial visitor zipped past us just before 1.00am UAE time (21.00 Universal Time). “Newly discovered Asteroid DX110 will be making a super close pass to Earth on March 5,” Slooh announced earlier, and maintains that it will keep up the good work to track potentially hazardous visitors in the future as well to give us a warning – even if only a few days in advance.
“We continue to discover these potentially hazardous asteroids – sometimes only days before they make their close approaches to Earth,” Slooh's technical and research director, Paul Cox said in a statement a few weeks ago, before a very similar asteroid (Earth Asteroid 2014 CU13) was discovered zipping past our planet.
Indeed, even as the DX110 spared us and our moon this time round, it is set to return, on March 4, 2046, when, according to NASA’s Risk Page , it has a 1 in 10 million chance to impact Earth.
According to a statement by Slooh astronomer Bob Berman, “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.”
The DX110 belongs to the same Apollo class of asteroids of which one hit the Earth last year and considered potential threat to humankind as they are a group of Earth-crossing asteroids.
The 65-foot-wide meteor which exploded over the town of Chelyabinsk in the southern Urals Region of Russia on February 15, 2013, belonged to the Apollo class, and it injured almost a thousand people. Read: Meteor hits Russia, 1,000 injured.
That meteor’s explosion was 30 times stronger than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. As windowpanes shattered throughout the city, several people were injured although no one was reportedly killed.
“Every few centuries, an even more massive asteroid strikes us – fortunately usually impacting in an ocean or wasteland such an Antarctica,” said Slooh’s Berman.
“But the on-going threat, and the fact that biosphere-altering events remain a real if small annual possibility, suggests that discovering and tracking all near Earth objects, as well as setting up contingency plans for deflecting them on short notice should the need arise, would be a wise use of resources.”