Potentially Hazardous Asteroid ‘2000 EM26’ to Make Closest Approach to Earth

First Posted: Feb 17, 2014 04:55 AM EST

A potentially hazardous asteroid dubbed 2000 EM26, travelling at 12.37 km/s is expected to make its closest approach to Earth on February 17.

The massive asteroid, with an estimated diameter of nearly three football fields, approximately 270m, is set to make a safe fly by Monday. Its journey poses no threat of colliding with our planet. People can track the asteroid as it has a close brush with Earth, through live Slooh webcast that is set to begin at 9 p.m. The journey of the asteroid will be monitored by the Slooh Space Camera.

Slooh's Technical and Research Director, Paul Cox, said in a news statement, "We continue to discover these Potentially Hazardous Asteroids sometimes only days before they make their close approaches to Earth. Slooh's asteroid research campaign is gathering momentum with Slooh members using the Slooh robotic telescopes to monitor this huge population of potentially hazardous space rocks. We need to find them before they find us!"

Near Earth Asteroid Threat! Live broadcast of NEA 2000 EM26, a "Potentially Hazardous Asteroid"

- SLOOH (@Slooh) February 14, 2014

The Feb.17 fly by occurs a year after two major events took place on Feb 15, 2013. The astronomers tracked the arrival of 2012 DA14, the 40,000 m ton space rock with a diameter of 98 ft, which was the closest object to whiz past our planet. The journey of this asteroid was followed by Slooh. But on the same day, another unexpected event took place in Russia. A meteor streaked across Chelyabinsk, Russia, damaging houses and causing injuries from broken glass. The damage was later attributed to an asteroid.

Astronomer, Bob Berman, "On a practical level, a previously unknown, undiscovered asteroid seems to hit our planet and cause damage or injury once a century or so, as we witnessed on June 20, 1908 and February 15, 2013. Every few centuries, an even more massive asteroid strikes us fortunately usually impacting in an ocean or wasteland such an Antarctica. But the ongoing threat, and the fact that biosphere altering events remain a real if small annual possibility, suggests that discovering and tracking all NEOs, as well as setting up contingency plans for deflecting them on short notice should the need arise, would be a wise use of resources."

Slooh keeps a close watch on asteroids and comets of varied sizes that orbit near our planet and have the potential to cause damage. Since the year 2008, it has covered several asteroids that brushed close to Earth. Its list includes Apophis, Toutatis and asteroid 2012 LZ1. Slooh was also a part of NASA's Asteroid Grand Challenge that aimed at hunting asteroids.


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