Earth’s near miss with asteroid is closest encounter in a generation

NASA announced earlier today that approximately 201,700 miles away from Earth, the 1,300-hundred-foot wide asteroid known as 2005 YU55 will pass Earth at 6:28 p.m. EST.

At just more than 200,000 miles away, this is the closest an object of that size has gotten to Earth in the last 35 years. Fortunately, NASA is confident the asteroid will not collide with Earth.

“The frequencies of these occurrences happen on huge geological time scales, but there is no guarantee that it wont happen in the next 20 to 30 years,” said Kevin Yates of the Near Earth Objects Information Center.

2005 YU55 is a C-type asteroid, meaning it is rich in carbon-based molecules and is of the same variety to frequently collide with Earth early in its history. Thanks to new infrared- sensing technology, sensing telescopes have been able to narrow the known number of asteroids that pass near Earth.

If 2005 YU55 did happen to be on a collision course with Earth, NASA says it would hypothetically wipe out a country and leave a crater 1,700 feet deep and 4 miles wide. If the asteroid were to hit water, a Tsunami wave 70 feet tall and spreading over 60 miles from the center would occur.

Young astronomers are excited about this close encounter, as it gives them a chance to analyze the information gathered from this fly-by. The next close encounter will come in 2028, when the asteroid 2001 WN5 will pass 143,000 miles away from Earth.