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. SOLEY

    Earth is so special to our God. He will not let anything like that happen to his poeple.
    we will be protected. dont wooorrryyy.

    September 8, 2010 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
  2. carina lobel-west

    is NOAH ready for the Big one ? .... because that's coming too.

    September 8, 2010 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. ulysses

    As far as we know, we're the only life in the Universe. Probably not, but until we actually locate another specimen we need to assume that we are. I personally think the existence of life in the universe is a big deal. Since we know for a fact that the Earth will not remain inhabitable forever, we should be doing everything in our power to make sure we can sustain life on this planet for as long as possible, and to spread life outward to other parts of the universe so that it can survive a "local" cataclysm such as the destruction of one ecosystem, planet, solar system, or even galaxy. That is the rational, evolved response to our innate survival instinct.

    September 8, 2010 at 2:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      So, what do you suggest?

      Life has existed on this planet for billions of years, and In all likelihood, will exist for another few billion.

      Colonization of solar system, while a fun topic for sci-fi, is not realistic for humanity, not within the next couple thousands of years, and exiting the solar system may never be feasible at all.

      I laugh at people who worry about such astronomically minute risks, yet ride their bikes without helmets or eat themselves to an early grave. They worry about end of humanity, but accept their own death and go without a fight. If humanity could and should unite to solve one problem, that should be the real problem of curing death first. Only after one achives immortality does it make sense to worry about extremely unlikely risks.

      September 8, 2010 at 5:08 am | Report abuse |
    • A Different John

      It may not be realistic right now, but who in the 1800s could have seen us walking on the moon in the 1900s? I don't choose to limit humanity and its potential.

      September 8, 2010 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
  4. jordan

    you laugh that its pointless to look for earthkillers because we cant do anything about it,but we need to be able to track them before we develop the means to deal with them. why are we spending so much money in the military to forge the world we want when were ok with it being destroyed by a random rock?

    September 8, 2010 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. Oblivious to the facts

    heres a wee point to ponder whilst you scroll thru these trollings posted above......

    this time yesterday these same 2 objects were that much further away.....and did you care?

    this time tommorow these 2 objects will be that much closer. will you care anymore then then you did yesterday?

    IMHO....i could care less the fact that things hit other things in space is a given and only sheeple who cant pull the wool off would ever think otherwise.

    this isnt news folks...these rocks? they pass by us and others burn up........if it was in anyway shape or form something to worry about dont you think sattilites would be made of stainless steel and other stronger then steel components? dont you think that the anti govt/seti type would not be the first ones to post the news of impending doom? you know the REAL ONLINE NERDS?

    for the sake of all things right and wrong stop the insanity and stop the idiotic posting please......either realize we are a insignificant speck in the grand picture and things do happen and theres not a damn thing you me or any govt can do to stop a planet killer event from happening so its pointless to even speculate just move along nothing new to be read here.

    September 8, 2010 at 2:44 am | Report abuse |
  6. donna


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

      Did you even read the article?

      September 8, 2010 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
  7. mm

    "It's an unusual event that shows the need for closer monitoring of near space for Earth-threatening encounters." I think God can handle his own business without humans meddling in it! No amount of "work" that NASA does can change the course of nature.

    September 8, 2010 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
    • A Different John

      I hope you never ever go to doctors. God can take care of your health for you.

      September 8, 2010 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. Alan

    You know, being wiped out by an Asteroid wouldn't be so bad. It may be scary as hell at first because thinking and knowing you are going to die but when it actually happens.. it would be incredible AWE, then most likely a blunt force hitting you (which you wouldn't even feel) then nothingness. Very painless death

    September 8, 2010 at 3:03 am | Report abuse |
  9. Judy

    Wake Up America!!!God is warning all Christians and nonbelivers get ready to meet the one you work for!!! Christ or Satan? Read your Bible, things that have been happening since the beginning of time or getting closer day by day of all coming to fullfillment for the close of life here on this earth,to begin another world!! You don't have to smart to look around you to know it isn't long!!!

    September 8, 2010 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Rock God

      LMAO! I love these crazy joke posts!!

      September 8, 2010 at 3:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Samantha

      How is that crazy bag lady i saw on 4th ave holding the sign "jesus saves" able to get on the internet? Darn starbucks on every corner.

      September 8, 2010 at 3:59 am | Report abuse |
    • A Different John

      I work for Satan.

      God created all humanity, and set everything in motion for all the evil in the world, because it was part of his "plan". God put the tree in the garden. God put Adam and Eve in the garden. God let the devil into the garden. God knew exactly what would happen as a result of what he'd done, but it was okay, because he wanted humanity to have the choice to serve him or rebel. God needs people to decide to worship him, and if they don't, then he casts them into an eternity of torture and hellfire. This is not the behavior of a sane being, it is the behavior of a childish egomaniac desperate for unthinking praise and worship. He could have accomplished the same goal by creating a horde of mindless automatons programmed to sing hosannas, but it isn't satisfying for him unless his creations decide to praise him.

      I say, screw that. If fundamentalist Christians like you are right about God, the Devil, and the afterlife, I'm on the side of independence and freedom, freedom from mindless worship and praise. If you're right about God, then I oppose you and your God in all things.

      Everything I needed to know about Christianity is in the Christian children's song "I Just Wanna Be A Sheep".
      just wanna be a sheep
      Baa, baa, baa, baa
      I just wanna be a sheep
      Baa, baa, baa, baa
      I pray the Lord my soul to keep
      I just wanna be a sheep
      Baa, baa, baa, baa,

      Well, I don't want to be a mindless bleating little lamb. If I burn, I burn.

      September 8, 2010 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. PARROT


    September 8, 2010 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. specter619

    I know! Lets get NASA to work with BP on this so we can send Ben afflic and some blow out preventers to stop these things!

    September 8, 2010 at 3:11 am | Report abuse |
  12. Rock God

    Lies! We're fuct!

    September 8, 2010 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
  13. YoungSinatra

    Well I'm getting the hell out of here!!! YOU guys have fun....PEACE!!

    September 8, 2010 at 3:13 am | Report abuse |
  14. Joe

    "The objects will visible from Earth as tiny specks of light with the help of moderate-sized amateur telescopes"

    Proof read much?

    September 8, 2010 at 3:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. nabeel

    i hope they both fall on Florida

    September 8, 2010 at 3:22 am | Report abuse |
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