Newly Discovered Asteroid Buzzes By Earth This Weekend

A newly discovered asteroid will buzz by Earth this weekend just days after a much smaller one came within 230,000 miles of the planet’s surface.

The 330-foot-wide asteroid, named 2013 ET, was discovered just a few days ago. It will pass by earth about 600,000 miles above the surface on Saturday.

Its 33-foot-wide counterpart, 2013 EC, flew by Earth on Monday. While neither asteroid poses a threat to Earth, their passing is unsettling considering they were discovered just days ago.

Astronomers believe the space rocks are made of the same material as the one that broke apart over Russia, injuring more than 1,000 people. The asteroid will make its way by Earth at 2.5 times the distance between the planet and the moon. Because of this, it will be too distant for most stargazers to spot.

The Virtual Telescope Project in Italy will stream a live view of the newly discovered asteroid’s flyby on Friday, starting at 2 pm EST. Researchers estimate that the number of near-Earth asteroids, like the one that will fly by on Saturday, tops one million. But they have only discovered 9,700 to date.

The potential number can certainly cause a bit of fear. The 55-foot asteroid that caused the massive fireball and explosion over Russia on February 15 impacted the planet before astronomers knew it existed. Such undetected objects can strike Earth without any warning. However, these strikes are very rare.

The last major asteroid to hit Earth was more than 100 years ago. It also struck in Russia. In light of the Russia meteor, as well as the two near-Earth asteroids that will pass by this week, many scientists are stressing the need for expanded and improved asteroid-detection efforts.

Despite the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of undiscovered asteroid near Earth, NASA researchers assure that 95 percent of the known near-Earth asteroids will not hit Earth in the foreseeable future. There are 980 mapped-out near-Earth asteroids that measure at least 0.6 miles wide. In comparison, the asteroid believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs likely measured six miles across.

[Image via ShutterStock]