Asteroid flyby today: Too close for comfort? What would happen if it hit us?


"Wider than an aircraft carrier and darker than coal, asteroid 2005 YU55 is soaring at over 11 miles a second straight towards Earth and moon on its latest path through the inner solar system. The good news is that the aircraft carrier-sized 2005 YU55 asteroid will be only some 200,000 miles from Earth when it passes by. That's closer than the moon. What if that was not the case? What would us humans be doing today?

The asteroid is expected to be closest to the planet at 3:28 p.m. PT. Because of its distance from Earth, NASA doesn't expect the asteroid to have any impact on tides or tectonic plates.
Although the space rock will be at a safe distance, it will be rather close, in space terms. In fact, NASA points out that it will be closer to Earth than any asteroid to fly by since 1976. It said YU55 hasn't been this close to Earth for "at least the last 200 years." What's more, it doesn't expect another asteroid of this size to near Earth until 2028.
As YU55 nears, NASA has been able to snap increasingly detailed photos of the asteroid. Its last-released radar image was taken at NASA's Goldstone, Calif., facility yesterday afternoon, when the asteroid was 860,000 miles from Earth. NASA, which will conduct radar observations today at its Arecibo Planetary Radar Facility in Puerto Rico to learn about the asteroid's surface and physical properties, expects to take far more detailed images, as the asteroid nears.
As YU55 flies by later today, don't expect it to be gone forever. As NASA points out, it follows an orbit that consistently brings it within the vicinity of Earth, Venus, and Mars.

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