Earlier today a small asteroid, estimated between 16 and 65 feet in diameter, whipped past Earth, missing us by a mere 7,500 miles – less than two times the radius of our planet.
The tour bus sized space rock, called asteroid 2011 MD, reached its closest point to Earth, a spot off the coast of Antarctica over the southern Atlantic Ocean, shortly after 1pm EST before whipping away again like a slingshot.
Last week NASA’s @AsteroidWatch predicted no probability of the asteroid striking the Earth, sending out the following tweet:
“There is no chance that 2011 MD will hit Earth but scientists will use the close pass as opportunity to study it w/ radar observations.”
Of the more than 8,000 Near-Earth objects that have been discovered to date, around 1,236 have been designated as potentially hazardous asteroids.
Asteroid 2011 MD was discovered only four days prior to its approach on June 22 by the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research discovery team in New Mexico. Though it came close to our planet, it’s not a distance record holder. Earlier this year, a tiny asteroid flew by even closer – within 3,400 miles.
According to Scientists, space rocks similar in size to Asteroid 2011 MD sail past Earth every six years. A larger, 1,300-foot asteroid, Asteroid 2005 YU55, is expected to flash past Earth on Nov. 8, 2011.