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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soundoff (361 Responses)
  1. tmak

    dot matrix cross products we are learning this advance algebra

    September 8, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  2. jay-ar(philippines)

    Only God know's everything...

    September 8, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  3. Speak Free

    The statement that what we need are "larger telescopes and more of them to find objects that are coming this close," begs the question: What difference would it make? The technology required to save mankind from such a catastrophic event does not exist. And, collectively, the governments of earth are currently incapable of the cooperation needed to do anything to affect the fate of humanity if an asteroid of significant size was going to affect earth.

    The advanced technology necessary to research and develop an effective means of detecting and counteracting an asteroid event, i.e., a strike on earth or a near pass close enough to threaten life on earth, would require a massive amount of resources. The cost would be staggering. However, the current reduction of funding for NASA demonstrates that the United States is unwilling to make such an investment. There is also no other country willing or capable to undertake such an effort at this time. Therefore, at the present, there is no interest in funding significant research in this type of advanced technology.

    The most scientifically advanced telescopes and other equipment could do nothing but incite panic and other serious problems among the peoples of earth unless we first dedicate ourselves to a serious and unrelenting attempt to achieve peace among every nation of the world. At this time, there are numerous wars and conflicts around the world which show no indication of coming to a peaceful ending in the forcible future. Peace and cooperation would be required, assuming that the goal was to save the greatest percentage of people possible.

    I must admit that I am too cynical to believe that funding for the development of technology needed to deal with asteroid events will become available in the near future, or that the cooperation required among nations to support such an effort is a realistic expectation. Therefore, I cannot see the justification for investing in "larger telescopes and more of them."

    September 8, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. The Man

    These two Astroids came closer than this 7 million years ago (no one saw them). They were 3 times bigger with rotating in opposite directions to each other. They were alternative rotation every 2 hours till they passed releasing Ozone into the atmosphere (good).

    September 8, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. Joseph William Arthur- Baidoo

    we pray it happens like they have said, so that we might not live in anxiety.

    September 8, 2010 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jon

    on cnn right now

    September 8, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Max

    I blame Atari....

    September 8, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Max

    About time this screwed up planet started over.....

    September 8, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Janakan

    Oh......this is special news

    September 8, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John All you need to know about space weather, this is old news to me.

    September 8, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Darash

    you will live by the word or die by the word exodus 20 your holy bible make the bride ready for the groom. call up on the name Jesus Christ and you will be saved. and abide by my laws given.

    September 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Way-Out-Willard

    Perhaps God's doctor looked through a microscope and saw that one of the cells was infected by a never before seen virus that multiplies uncontrollably and therefore has given him a vaccine to try to kill it before it kills God. So anti-bodies are coming this way to "Wack" the cell and clean off the infection. Just like our bodies, for we were created in God's image..... Look out man, there is a lot you really don't know about our God !

    September 8, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tedlla

    Oh! my Lord ! It is time to pray ! Only faith can save as Just immagine how late the information is to my ear If something goes wrong are we prepared to protect our world 1/5 the distance between earth and moon ? It is so close I think

    September 8, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • El Jimbo

      LOL!!! Yeah. Praying is gonna save us. Nooo...

      September 21, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ben

    More like the universe saying that it could end us whenever. More scopes & money to just tell us when the pain is coming. Take it easy and enjoy life.

    September 8, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Speak Free

    I believe in God and an inevitable Judgement Day, but where did all of this doomsday/God destroying the earth talk come from? I thought this was a rational conversation regarding near-earth asteroid events and the willingness and ability, or lack there of, of mankind detecting and preparing for such events. Can we do it, and, if so, will we do it?

    September 8, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
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