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Asteroid YU55 to narrowly miss earth says NASA

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Asteroid_YU55A HUGE asteroid will fly within a 'cosmic hairs breadth' of the moon, narrowly missing Earth later this year, experts revealed today.

 

The rock, called YU55, will hurtle past earth at a distance of just 201,700 miles during its closest approach on November 8.

That is closer to Earth than the moon, which is 238,857miles away.

The YU55 asteroid, which is 400metres across and weighs 55 million tons will be the largest object to get so close to earth.

Nasa spokesman Don Yeomans said: "On November 8, asteroid YU55 will fly past Earth and at its closest approach point will be about 325,000kms away.

"This asteroid is about 400 metres wide - the largest space rock we have identified that will come this close until 2028.'

Despite YU55's close proximity to Earth, its gravitational pull on our planet will be tiny.

Mr Yeomans added: 'During its closest approach, its gravitational effect on the Earth will be so miniscule as to be immeasurable. It will not affect the tides or anything else.'

It is, however, still officially labelled a 'potentially hazardous object' - if it was to hit Earth, it would exert a force the equivalent of 65,000 atomic bombs and leave a crater six miles wide and 2,000ft deep.

YU55 was discovered by Robert McMillan, head of the Nasa-funded Spacewatch Program at the University of Arizona, Tucson in December 2005.

It orbits the sun once every 14 years but will not collide with Earth for at least a century.

'YU55 poses no threat of an Earth collision over, at the very least, the next 100 years,' Mr Yeomans said.

Scientists around the world have long been discussing ways of deflecting potentially hazardous asteroids to prevent them hitting Earth.

One of the more popular methods is to detonate a nuclear warhead on an approaching asteroid to deflect it from its orbital path.

Last year, physicist David Dearborn of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US argued that nuclear weapons could be the best strategy for avoiding an asteroid impact - especially for large asteroids and with little warning time.

 


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