November 3rd, 2011
01:13 PM ET

Asteroid to pass closer to Earth than the moon

An aircraft carrier-sized asteroid, a little over four football fields in diameter, is heading toward Earth and it will pass closer to our planet than the moon.

NASA has classified the asteroid as a “potentially hazardous object” and it will pass to within .8 lunar distances on November 8.  It is the closest approach to Earth of an object this size in over 30 years.

What would happen if an asteroid this size crashed into Earth?

It would result in a 4,000 megaton blast, magnitude 7.0 earthquake and - if it falls into the ocean - could cause a 70-foot high tsunami within 60 miles of the crash site, according to an expert at Purdue University.

However, this space rock poses no threat of an Earth collision for at least the next 100 years, according to NASA’s Near Earth Object Program.

So what’s the big deal?

Encounters of objects this large this close to our planet won't happen again until the year 2028 when an asteroid will pass near Earth to within .6 lunar distances.

NASA plans to study the asteroid with the Goldstone radar antennas in California’s Mojave Desert. Goldstone antennas are very sensitive radio telescopes used to investigate quasars, radar mapping of planets and comets.

Scientists plan to reconstruct the shape of the asteroid with a resolution as fine as 13 feet (4 meters) using the antennas. Several days of high resolution operations are also scheduled at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

It will also provide a rare opportunity for amateur astronomers to directly observe an asteroid with optical telescopes.

The asteroid will approach Earth from a sunward direction and it will be a daylight object until the time of its closest approach on November 8.  The best time to see the asteroid will be after the hours of 4 pm EST (21:00 UTC).

Watch more on asteroid 2005 YU55 from CNN's Reynolds Wolf.

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Filed under: In Space
soundoff (683 Responses)
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    August 25, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
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    April 1, 2012 at 4:25 am |
  4. Scrappy

    So what passed by earth on the first of november

    November 15, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  5. keanu

    woah. you people are scaring me more than just a little bit. and *way* more than the asteroid :-/

    November 9, 2011 at 8:53 am |
  6. bobmc

    A day late and a Dollar wiser, lets see if this asteroid miss's us and then test the Alarm System.

    November 8, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  7. ASTEROID COMING!

    It's amazing how CNN is not featuring this article on their home page with a huge banner. The Asteroid is coming close to Earth tomorrow November the 8th at 4 PM EST.

    People have the right to now and they should be informed right away. I understand how CNN doesn't want to create panic, but still, a well written article will educate the masses and inform them about the imminent danger.

    At least, just in case something happens, people will have one more chance to tell their loved ones their goodbyes, or I love you's. That would be priceless.

    November 7, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  8. Mekhonbg Kurt

    Unless I goofed on the math, 4,000 megatons equals the blast of 266,667 Hiroshima-sized bombs (15 kilotons). That's one heckuva firecracker!

    November 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  9. Elise Ellis

    What year will this happen?

    November 6, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  10. pogpog28

    Who knows exactly the exact size of the asteroid given all the high tech instruments? NASA, right? Will they announce to the public the exact size if this will bypass very near to Earth or probably hit Earth in due time? CASE CLOSED.

    November 5, 2011 at 1:45 am |
  11. tuoni

    Time for Obama to call Bruce Willis, Michael Clarke Duncan and Steve Buscemi.

    November 4, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  12. MidAgedMan

    They have known this was coming for some time, and know when it will next occur. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could land a satellite on it, with all the appropriate instrumentation. Just think of what could be gained, without the expense or effort of having to propel and navigate the craft through our inner solar system.

    November 4, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  13. Steven

    We could send my ex-wife to check it out! She is expendable. LOL

    November 4, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  14. toxictown

    Occupy The Asteriod!!!

    November 4, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  15. jon

    We should have some defensive practice on asteroids like this one so that if there is one that is actually going to hit us in the near future (not that we would ever miss anything important), we will be better prepared for it.

    November 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  16. shawnf

    you people's discussions are all based on bullshit conjobs by the media. you think you're soooooo smart, but just fools.

    November 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  17. Mike

    Does anybody know if you will be able to detect motion over the course of a few minutes?

    November 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  18. BensonBurner

    This reminds me of that iCarly episode.

    November 4, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  19. Joe T.

    Don't ask Bud Selig for advice. He doesn't know anything about dealing with 'roids.

    November 4, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
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