Giant asteroid heading close to Earth
A giant asteroid weighing 55 million tonnes will just miss the Earth later this year, Nasa experts have predicted.
Asteroid YU55 will pass close to earth later this year Photo: ALAMY
By Martin Evans7:02AM BST 05 May 2011 222 Comments
The rock, which is quarter of a mile across, will pass between our planet and the moon in November and will be visible with small telescopes.
Robin Scagell of the Society for Popular Astronomy said: “It’s rare we get the chance to see an asteroid up close.”
If it were to hit the earth, the asteroid, named YU55, would have an impact equivalent to 65,000 atom bombs and would leave a crater more than six miles wide and 2,000ft deep.
Passing by at a distance of just 201,000 miles, the asteroid will be the largest object ever to approach the earth so close.
Nasa has officially labelled it a Potentially Hazardous Object, but have stressed there is no danger of impact while on its current course.
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YU55 orbits the sun every 14 years and last passed the earth in April 2010 at a distance of 1.5 million years.
There are currently 874 near earth asteroids which are considered to be potentially dangerous.
They are closely monitored and the list is being constantly added to as astronomers discover new objects in near space.
Scientists estimate that there is usually one large collision with earth every few hundred thousand years.
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