Bus-size asteroid buzzes past earth in close flyby

Washington, Jan 28: On Jan. 25, a small asteroid the size of a city bus zoomed between Earth and the moon’s orbit just days after its discovery, but luckily it posed no threat to our planet, according to NASA reports.

The newly discovered asteroid 2012 BX34 passed within 36,750 miles (59,044 kilometers) of Earth when it made its closest approach at 10:30 a.m. EST (1530 GMT), Discovery News reported.

The space rock is about 37 feet (11 meters) wide and would have broke apart in Earth’s atmosphere long before it reached the ground, if it had reached the planet at all, NASA scientists said.

“Asteroid 2012 BX34 is small. It wouldn’t get through our atmosphere intact even if it dared to try,” astronomers with NASA’s Asteroid Watch at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a Twitter message.

The space rock passed Earth at a distance that is only about 0.17 times that between the Earth and the moon. For comparison, the moon typically orbits Earth at a distance of about 240,000 miles (386,000 km).

“Asteroids this small are hard to spot, and luckily they pose the least concern. Our goal is to find the bigger ones,” Asteroid Watch scientists explained.

In September, NASA announced that it has spotted about 90 percent of the largest asteroids (the size of a mountain or bigger) that can come near Earth. About 911 such giant space rocks have been confirmed. Astronomers estimate there are about 981 big near-Earth objects that occasionally creep close to our planet.

Asteroid 2012 BX34 was the second space rock to fly relatively close by Earth this week, Asteroid Watch scientists said.

On Jan. 23, another small asteroid – called 2012 BS1 — passed by the planet at a range of about 745,000 miles (1.2 million km), which is about 3.1 times the Earth-moon distance.

“Asteroid 2012 BS1 is so small (about 7 meters) it would disintegrate in our atmosphere if it were to come close to Earth,” the Asteroid Watch team wrote. (ANI)