September 7th, 2010
09:28 PM ET

Two asteroids to pass close to Earth on Wednesday

Two small asteroids in unrelated orbits will pass within the moon's distance of the Earth on Wednesday, according to NASA.

It's an unusual event that shows the need for closer monitoring of near space for Earth-threatening encounters, a scientist with the program said.

The objects don't pose a threat to Earth, and they will not be visible to the naked eye, said Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near Earth Program, which tracks potentially hazardous asteroids and comets within 28 million miles of Earth.

The objects will visible from Earth as tiny specks of light with the help of moderate-sized amateur telescopes, he said.

Near-Earth asteroid 2010 RX30, which is estimated to be 32 to 65 feet in size, will pass within 154,000 miles of Earth at 5:51 a.m. ET Wednesday. The second object, 2010 RF12, estimated to be 20 to 46 feet in size, will pass within 49,088 miles of Earth at 5:12 pm ET.

In case you were wondering, that means the two asteroids will pass within 0.6 and 0.2 lunar distances from the Earth, respectively. The first will be closest to Earth over the north Pacific, and the second, over Antarctica.

Roughly 50 million objects pass through near-Earth space each day, Yeomans said. But what makes this situation noteworthy is that these two asteroids are passing so close to Earth on the same day and that NASA spotted them so far in advance.

"Things like this happen every day that we simply don’t know about because we don’t have the telescopes large enough to find them or surveys that are looking full-time," he said. "This demonstrates the system's working on some level, but we need larger telescopes and more of them to find objects that are coming this close."

The Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona, discovered both objects Sunday morning during a routine monitoring of the skies, NASA said.

The Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, first received the observations Sunday morning, determined preliminary orbits and concluded both objects would pass within the distance of the moon about three days later.

Yeomans described the discovery as a warning shot in a field of study of low-probability events that have global, high-impact consequences. He said that it was only when scientists began looking for near-Earth objects in the 1990s that they realized there was a "problem."

"We have only recently appreciated how many of these objects are in near Earth's space and [it's] best that we keep track of them and find them," he said. "I think this is Mother Nature's way of firing a shot over the bow and warning Earth-based astronomers that we have a lot of work to do."

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Filed under: Earth • Space
soundoff (361 Responses)
  1. Kirby

    😦

    September 7, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • pgall81

      how come i havent heard about this on the news i think that this is a little more important than money oh wait if it were to hit they would just buy a new planet

      September 7, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brasil2014

      These are only wee guys. The meteorite which carved out Meteor Crater in Winslow Arizona was 50 meters in diameter. I went to see that crater last November. Quite a site. These wee guys might take out a city block or ranch but most likely would break up in the atmosphere. Would be a nice spectacle though.

      September 7, 2010 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • pgall81

      sorry but the news is suppost to inform us, thats what we pay for. Even if they dont hit its still news and i want to know, its just weird how two more asteriods are that so close and we havent heard to much about it. The colombian asteroid that hit on the 5 of September 2010(if you havent heard about that do some research ) wasnt that big of a deal oh but maybe were not suppost toknow. Why would they tell just were replaceable.

      September 7, 2010 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • chuck

      isn't the one you're talking about responsible for wiping out a huge proportion of life on Earth at the time? Even a couple percent of that is likely a large impact, admittedly on the extreme end of possibilities

      September 8, 2010 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Crisy003

      I think I remember my teacher telling our Astronomy class about this, there was some big debate last year whether or not it would make impact with the Earth since it's path was destined to come between the Earth and the moon. I almost forgot all about this! I'll have to go out with a telescope when this happens, although, I'm sure it won't be hard to miss!

      September 8, 2010 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • CS93

      @ Adam oh please dont get the 2012 nuts started.

      September 8, 2010 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Lenic

      @Brasil2014 – while i agree that these are only wee guys keep in mind that the direction of their impact in such a scenario plays an enormous role on the damage caused. for instance, if we were hit by a meteor of the size mentioned in the article from a direction opposite of earths orbit around its sun then the combined velocity of the object and earth in a head on collision would have a HELLA lot more energy. all that energy has to go somewhere. food for thought...

      September 8, 2010 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
    • StateOfMaine

      Isn't the area known as the Gulf Of Mexico an ancient meteor impact site ?

      September 8, 2010 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
    • pgall81

      2012 I dont know or care all i care about is protecting my wife and four kids, and all others who are willing to open their eyes.

      September 8, 2010 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Egelbert

      One day...surely it will hit the earth......................

      September 8, 2010 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Egelbert

      One day...surely it will hit the earth......................soon.....

      September 8, 2010 at 2:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      Well,I guess "JESUS" is going to come very soon...If this is the end of the world...

      September 8, 2010 at 3:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Jedi Falcon

      Thanks for the 1 DAY NOTICE. I mean seriously. 2 Asteroids coming this close to Earth and we get a 1 DAY NOTICE?

      Cant wait to read when the Big One actually comes on a collision course, and CNN posts the article – Asteroid on course to destroy the Earth Tomorrow...

      September 8, 2010 at 3:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Jedi Falcon

      Thanks for the 1 DAY NOTICE. I mean seriously. 2 Asteroids coming this close to Earth and we get a 1 DAY NOTICE?

      Cant wait to read when the Big One actually comes on a collision course, and CNN posts the article – Asteroid on course to destroy the Earth Tomorrow...

      September 8, 2010 at 3:59 am | Report abuse |
    • William B. Doyle

      2024, not 2012. Calculations are off a bit.

      September 8, 2010 at 3:59 am | Report abuse |
    • jazzbo

      if you want to know about it before the news prints it...
      http://www.spaceweather.com
      (near the bottom of the page are 'near-earth asteroids' listed for your convenience)

      September 8, 2010 at 4:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Peaches

      Does any one remember the movie Sudden Impact?

      September 8, 2010 at 4:15 am | Report abuse |
    • ::: BreakingNewsBlog.us for CNN :::

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      September 8, 2010 at 4:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Runwalk1

      Let's assume you were given advance notice for something that will most likely not hit earth. Would you leave your town? Would you snarl traffic? Would you buy unneccesary things for the comming doom day? why do we need to know things that can't be changed? I don't believe CNN has an agenda to lead blind but reallly???? why is everyone so antagonistic? Seems to me that this will not affect anyone but some will assume it will.

      September 8, 2010 at 4:42 am | Report abuse |
    • ::: BreakingNewsBlog.us for CNN :::

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      HOW we can send in space the hardware and astronauts to STOP a small asteroid in route to Earth after the Shuttle retirement????????????
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      >>> why NASA can't rely on "commercial space" >>> http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-484322
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      September 8, 2010 at 4:46 am | Report abuse |
    • BRISTOL ON DANCING WITH SOME STARS???

      It's Obama's fault. He'z had 2 years now to make everything perfect and they're still not. So it's all heez fault. Let's get some republican/Teapotter conservatives back in the majority so we can go back to doze good ole Bushy days. Bushy folks can make the 'roids and all the bad peeple go away.

      September 8, 2010 at 4:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert Haas

      Have You Heard? It's in the stars! Next July we collide with Mars! Well,, Did ya ever? What a swell party it was. ( Cole Porter)

      September 8, 2010 at 5:14 am | Report abuse |
    • scientists

      I wouldn't lose sleep over it; close, in this case, is extremely subjective..

      September 8, 2010 at 6:54 am | Report abuse |
    • WOODCHUCK

      PARAGRAPH 4, The objects will be visible

      September 8, 2010 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Dr. X

      Call Bruce Willis

      September 8, 2010 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      Ok, well if they hit earth, can I put in a special request with someone somewhere that they hit Iran?

      September 8, 2010 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Ivette

      Last Sunday a meteorite strikes Colombia, today two metoerites close to earth, Scientists did not see the one of Colombia coming. Why suddenly so many meteorits?

      September 8, 2010 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      pgall81- guess what? You just read it on the news website. Get over it

      September 8, 2010 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Ellen S. Douglass

      Just heard Father John Gatsak on Hartford radio WJMJ telling me today is Mary's birthday.

      September 8, 2010 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • KW

      @Woodchuck, Paragraph 4 (in it's full text) says "The objects will visible from Earth as tiny specks of light with the help of moderate-sized amateur telescopes" May I place emphasis on everything AFTER the 5 words that you chose to repeat. I don't have a moderate-sized amateur telescope on hand so I doubt those tiny specks of light will be visible...

      September 8, 2010 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Harvey

      "BREAKING NEWS" This just in: The two asteroids reported to be passing close to Earth have suddenly begun slowing down and changing course to what appears to be an intercept course of the moon. Scientists are baffled by this sudden irregular activity. Stay tuned for further updates.

      September 8, 2010 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      What about the asteroid that is going to come into our orbit in 2012?

      September 8, 2010 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Fran

      It's George Bush's fault

      September 8, 2010 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
    • BigW

      WoW

      September 8, 2010 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • TinKnight

      Jedi Knight, they knew about this about a year in advance...just because the news doesn't report on it doesn't mean it's not known. The media doesn't report on every bombing or shooting in Iraq, or even just here in Houston.
      Woodchuck, read the entire sentence..."the object will be visible WITH A TELESCOPE." Millions of objects are visible with telescopes that you can't see with the naked eye...doesn't make them dangerous.
      Ivette, as mentioned in the article, 50 million objects/"meteors" pass near Earth EVERY DAY...CNN just decided to report on this one. Selective reporting by the media is nothing new.

      September 8, 2010 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      This is really some fascinating stuff! Hopefully this will peak the interest of some future astronomers and reinforce in our lawmakers (and school board members) why funding scientific endeavors is so important!

      September 8, 2010 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • The Man

      The last time these two came this close was 4 million years ago (no one saw them) and they were twice as big.

      September 8, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Etrigan

      What exactly is the purpose behind tracking these things? Specifically, of what actionable use is this knowledge? It's like analyzing the sun to determine which days it's going to go nova. Not a thing we can do with that information except make sure we have satellites in place to get some interesting footage.

      September 8, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bart

      Jedi..... your kidding right. I only need a few hours of notice, Just enough time to break out my emergency bottle of kettle one. Silly people

      September 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. science fan

    No matter what the topic, it seems that every report on research findings ends with a statement that more funds are required to continue and to expand the research.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg K

      You people complain that spending money on searching the sky is a waste of resources... yet none of you complain to your government how much spending goes to military in US. You don't care about the safety of humanity , cause building more tanks and planes is more important, since we don't have enough...

      September 7, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • MagicB

      The majority of the small object finding community are amateur astronomers that report to NASA, hence they work for free in their spare time. More funding would be nice to help these guys with updated technology and equipment.

      September 7, 2010 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • KM

      Greg,
      No matter what career field you may be in, military or civilian, everyone will always want more money. Find something better to do then complain about the military and the funding. Plus, all those planes and tanks that we apparently have enough of in the military are used to support humanitarian missions on a regular basis.

      September 8, 2010 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
    • TTommy

      That's because more funds ARE needed. Humans tend to be reactive rather than proactive. But watch the outcry when one of these sneaks up on us undetected and maybe even hits the earth and does major damage. Only then will something get done in a major way. It's as predictable as the sun rising in the east every morning.

      September 8, 2010 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
    • bellabella

      Oh my goodnesssssss u are all cracking me up ! But it wud suck if a big ol rock does us like the dinos ! Ahhhhh ! Hopefully the big guy upstairs is gonna wait another billion years for that ! Pray ! I will :o)

      September 8, 2010 at 4:15 am | Report abuse |
  3. ODA155

    ...oh hell, I'd better get some milk and bread!

    September 7, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • LBP

      ODA155- Ha ha! That was freakin' hilarious. Especially for people like me who live in Indiana and watch everyone and their brother run to the store everytime we get a dusting of snow!

      September 7, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Hey dont forget the bottled water.Me,I will grab a bottle of Jack and sit back and watch the best and last fireworks show we will ever see.

      September 8, 2010 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      I think them government people said ya need to duct tape yer winders when an asteroid lands on yer house.

      September 8, 2010 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Rock God

      Don't forget eggs – so you can make French Toast!

      September 8, 2010 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
  4. bfraz

    This planet could use a good impact.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • kishore

      I am with you on that.

      September 7, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • j

      It's got a bad virus to get rid of...us.

      September 7, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • MagicB

      Hopefully it only hits one of the Republican majority states. J/K

      September 7, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • reck0ner

      i'm praying for rains... i'm praying for tidal waves... i wanna see the ground give way... i wanna watch it all go down... GOD please flush it all down... i wanna see it go riding down... i wanna watch go sliding; watch GOD flush it all away...

      September 8, 2010 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Har

      Maybe it will take out the top half of Mexico and all of Texas, that would be great. Talk about immigration reform!

      September 8, 2010 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • reck0ner

      is it right where you are? have the people changed? does it make you happy your so safe? into earth's darkest hour... my own futures saved... i pray to watch the world devoured in it's place...

      September 8, 2010 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Leecherius

      Wouldn't it be ironic to land on Iran. Not wishing harm to citizenry , but..

      September 8, 2010 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
    • NukuVarjo

      Agreed!

      September 8, 2010 at 6:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      @bfraz, hopefully it will hit right where you are then so you can see it up close.

      September 8, 2010 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
    • 1plus1

      This world could use an enema

      September 8, 2010 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sean

    Quick! Scramble Bruce and his team! I know these are scheduled to hit, but we can't take any chances on Bruce making another "Life Free or Die Hard"!

    September 7, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Eric Devone Cater

    Well, where to start.... If it wasn't a problem before the 1990's when it was discovered.... It shouldn't be a problem now. It has been going on this long, let it be.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rebecca

      "This long" being 20 years? An infinitesimally small amount of time compared to the life of the universe, the planet, even our own species. An impact probably killed the dinosaurs,and it could kill us too. This particular close call isn't a threat, but it's still a close call. We should worry about it.

      Or rather, people smart enough to do something about it should worry.

      September 7, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Antano1970

      Rebecca – you couldnt do anything about it if you wanted to

      September 8, 2010 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. Lars

    On June 6, 2002 an object with an estimated diameter of 10 meters collided with Earth. The collision occurred over the Mediterranean Sea, between Greece and Libya, at approximately 34°N 21°E and the object exploded in mid-air. The energy released was estimated (from infrasound measurements) to be equivalent to 26 kilotons of TNT, comparable to a small nuclear weapon Do the math...the largest is almost 2 x as large...i wonder if we had a plan?

    September 7, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • psyguns

      Duck?

      September 7, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • John B

      Duck and Cover... I understand it works with lava and massive tidal waves.

      September 7, 2010 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • FriesWitDat

      Tuck, duck, and cover ... and roll.

      September 8, 2010 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Maybe just hope that The Doctor can save us?

      September 8, 2010 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      The Plan: Place the right index finger in the right ear. Place the left index finger in the left ear.

      September 8, 2010 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Antano1970

      Blame Palin's baby?

      September 8, 2010 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
    • T

      five d's of dodgeball: dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge!

      September 8, 2010 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert Haas

      Quack Up

      September 8, 2010 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  8. Rebecca

    That's really uncomfortably close... Michio Kaku may be on to something.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • ODA155

      Michio Kaku is a jerk...he's smart as hell, but still a jerk. He disses anyone whom he's doesn't agree with... and that's just about everybody.

      September 7, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rebecca

      Perhaps true (I don't know that guy) but when i comes to my planet maybe exploding in a massive asteroid impact, I'll stick with geniuses over nice people. 🙂

      September 7, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. kishore

    Something to do with Deepak Chopra's thoughts?

    September 7, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Brian

    With any luck it will curve a bit and hit that pastor in Florida, along with his clan of hatemongers.

    September 7, 2010 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stan J

      How about it Osama instead, you patronizing fool.

      September 7, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      We can all just hope that happens.I would rather see General Petraeus show up on the pastor's doorstep with a few heavily armed Special Forces soldiers.

      September 8, 2010 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dave

    when i read asteroid, i was expecting something like massive. Those are just gonna make a mess of 10 city blocks at most.

    September 7, 2010 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rebecca

      I know it's intuitive that a 40 foot rock wouldn't be a big deal, but it's on fire and traveling at an absurd velocity. It would be like pretty epically awful nuclear weapon size destruction. Lars has correct details above.

      September 7, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Rebecca – it were to only have that effect if it were to explode in mid air. If it were to make it through the atmosphere, and make a ground impact it's effect will be less effective than a mid air explosion. The reason is because with a ground impact, the radiating explosion will only explode outward and upward where as a mid air explosion would radiate in all angles upward, outward, and downward.

      It is known as the "Tunguska Phenomenon" when what is believed to be a meteorite or comet exploded in mid air and caused a lot of devastation to trees in the Tunguska Forest. This discovery led to United States developing mid air exploding missiles.

      But I doubt these two asteroids will have an effect on Earth, well not on this flyby anyways. For one, they are reported 45+k miles away from Earth. Two, they would need to make it past Earths atmosphere and all of Earths space junk without exploding. The only way it can get through the atmosphere is (a.) be a really massive solid object which will make it through the space junk and the atmosphere, or (b.) be a moderately sized brittle object with a lot of holes which would probably break up if impacted space junk but could pass through the atmosphere if not small enough to burn up from the friction caused by dust particles in our atmosphere.

      September 8, 2010 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. McJesus

    This happens all the darn time. Nothing new here.

    September 7, 2010 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • T

      Officer Barbrady "Move along, people. Nothing to see here. Go home, you looky-loos. ..."

      September 8, 2010 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Derek C.

      Sure does, and that's why we need people to actually pay attention and be concerned that NO COUNTRY on this Earth has the means to really keep us protected. We have our heads between our !@#es.

      September 8, 2010 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  13. david

    Quick Scotty beam me up!

    September 7, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. The Doctor

    There is the possibility, albeit it a remote one, that these two near earth objects could achieve a stable orbit around Earth instead of passing us by.

    September 7, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      The probability of that happening is somewhere between the three following points: Slim, fat and none.

      September 8, 2010 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  15. grofys

    okay, i'll post all the fun words: jesus, nibiru, mayan calendar, martial law, fema coffins, underground bunkers, 2012, food stockpiles.

    September 7, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
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