98-ft asteroid 2014 DX110 will miss hitting Earth by a hair's breadth on Wednesday

By James Maynard, Tech Times | March 5, 1:28 AM

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2014 DX110, an asteroid unknown until 28 February, will pass closer to the Earth than the distance to the Moon, on Wednesday, March 5. Had the 98-ft wide asteroid struck Earth, the effect would have been catastrophic. Pictured here is an artist's impression of an impending asteroid impact on Earth.
(Photo : ESA)

The asteroid 2014 DX110, measuring 98 feet in diameter, will barely miss the Earth on Wednesday, 5 March. This body will come closer to the Earth than our Moon, passing just 217,000 miles from Earth.

The large body of rock and metal is traveling at nearly 33,200 miles per hour. If it were on a collision course with our home world, the results could be catastrophic for any region it struck.

The close approach will be broadcast live by the Slooh space telescope. They are describing this event as a "super close" approach. The Virtual Telescope Project will also be broadcasting their views of the close call.

2014 DX110 was discovered by astronomers working as part of the PanSTARRS survey. This body is classified as an Apollo asteroid. These are celestial bodies with orbits larger than that of our home world, that pass the Earth on their journey around the Sun. It takes 39 months for DX110 to complete one trip around our home star.

The rocky body is estimated to weigh more than 17,600 pounds. It will make its closest approach to Earth at 5:07 PM EST on March 5.

On 17 February, 2000 EM26, measuring 885 feet across, missed the Earth by just 8.8 times the distance of the moon, roughly ten times more distant than Wednesday's approach. The meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, was estimated to be around 65 feet across. This new asteroid is more than three times the size of the body responsible for the event on 15 February 2013.

Great danger is presented to our planet by bodies the size of 2014 DX110. They are large enough to cause significant damage if they strike in, or above, a populated area. At least once or twice a year, astronomers see a sizable meteor strike the Moon. They are also small enough that they are usually not discovered until just a few days before a potential impact.

Most large asteroids coming in for an collision with Earth explode in the atmosphere, due to great stresses caused by atmospheric braking and friction. An explosion above a city can produce widespread shock waves, creating even more damage than a ground impact.

Science journals Science and Nature each reported in November that the chance of an impact the size of the Chelyabinsk meteor is seven times more likely than previously believed. The flyby of 2014 DX110 is another warning our planet is vulnerable to strikes by the bodies, warn astronomers.

Although the asteroid will not strike the Earth on Wednesday, computer simulations suggest a 1-in-ten-million chance the body will strike our planet on 4 March 2046.

Watch the real-time video of 2014 DX110 flying past Earth below.

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