Tunguska-sized asteroid buzzes past Earth

March 3rd, 2009 - 1:13 pm ICT by ANI  

London, March 3 (ANI): Reports indicate that an asteroid about the size of the one that levelled the forest in Tunguska, Siberia, a century ago, buzzed past Earth on March 2nd, well within the Moons orbit.

According to a report in New Scientist, the asteroid, dubbed 2008 DD45, whizzed just 72,000 kilometers above the Earths surface.

That is less than a fifth of the distance to the Moon and just twice the distance to geosynchronous satellites.

The object was first reported on March 1st by members of the Siding Spring Survey, a near-Earth object search programme based in Australia.

Based on its brightness, the asteroid seems to be between 20 and 50 metres across, said Timothy Spahr of the International Astronomical Unions Minor Planet Center.

That rivals the size of the asteroid, estimated to be as small as 30 metres, that slammed into Tunguska, Siberia in 1908, creating a powerful blast that levelled 2000 square kilometres of forest.

Astronomers hope to get a better estimate of DD45s span by observing it at infrared wavelengths to estimate how well the rock reflects light.

By modelling the rocks orbit over the coming days, astronomers also hope to have a better sense of the threat it may pose to Earth in the next 100 years or so, Spahr told New Scientist.

DD45 seems to orbit the Sun once every 1.5 years.

DD45, which passed just 0.00048 AU from Earth, is one of a growing list of potentially hazardous asteroids that have been spotted by astronomers in advance of their closest approach. (ANI)

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