Earth gets a rush with new asteroid close-calls
By Irene Klotz, ReutersCAPE CANAVERAL, Florida--An asteroid as big as a city block shot relatively close by the Earth on Saturday, the latest in a series of visiting celestial objects including an asteroid the size of a bus that exploded over Russia last month, injuring 1,500.
March 12, 2013, 12:19 am TWN
Discovered just six days ago, the 460-foot-long (140-meter) Asteroid 2013 ET passed about 600,000 miles (950,000 km) from Earth at 3:30 p.m. EST (2030 GMT). That's about 2-1/2 times as far as the Moon, fairly close on a cosmic yardstick.
“The scary part of this one is that it's something we didn't even know about,” Patrick Paolucci, president of Slooh Space Camera, said during a webcast featuring live images of the asteroid from a telescope in the Canary Islands.
Moving at a speed of about 26,000 mph, (41,843 kph), the asteroid could have wiped out a large city if it had impacted the Earth, added Slooh telescope engineer Paul Cox.
Asteroid 2013 ET is nearly eight times larger than the bus-sized asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Feb. 15. The force of the explosion, equivalent to about 440 kilotons of dynamite, created a shock wave that shattered windows and damaged buildings, injuring more than 1,500 people.
Later that day, another small asteroid, known as DA14, passed about 17,200 miles (27,680 km) from Earth, closer than the orbiting networks of communications and weather satellites.
“One of the reasons why we're finding more of these objects is that there are more people looking,” Cox said.