Asteroid 2005 YU55 – A c-type asteroid known as “2005 YU55” will pass very close to Earth on Nov. 8, according to NASA. The meteorite is the same size as an aircraft-carrier. It will be the largest near-miss for the planet in three decades.
It will come within 202,000 miles of Earth, closer than the moon, before YU55 zips farther into space. Carbon-colored and dark, the meteorite measures some 1,300 feet wide.
“This is not a potentially hazardous asteroid, just a good opportunity to study one,” National Science Foundation astronomer Thomas Statler says. NASA and the NSF plan a series of radar telescope and other observations starting Friday, aimed at mapping the rock’s surface and chemistry.
“The radar measurements should be pretty spectacular,” Statler says about the 2005 YU55.
There are a lot of rocks “out there, so the more we know about them, the better,” says astronomer Phil Plait of Discover Magazine’s BadAstronomer blog. “This one is a clean miss, but we are going to learn a lot of science from it passing by.”
Statler says that he wants to study rocks from space more to learn more about them before one does hit.
A meteorite of this size landing in the ocean would trigger a magnitude-7.0 earthquake and 70-foot-high tsunami waves some 60 miles away, says Jay Melosh of Purdue University in Indiana. Such impacts are thought to come about once every 100,000 years.
Discovered in 2005, the asteroid is in the common but little C-Type class of space rocks, extremely porous carbon-colored objects, says Don Yeomans, NASA expert. Look for it on Nov. 8 towards the south skies.