It came from Space! Small asteroid 2011 MD gets Really Close tomorrow.

Bend it Like Beckham! Small Asteroid to Whip Past Earth on June 27, 2011

2011md_ca3

Trajectory of 2011 MD projected onto the Earth’s orbital plane. Note from this viewing angle, the asteroid passes underneath the Earth.

2011md_ca4

Trajectory of 2011 MD from the general direction of the Sun.

Near-Earth asteroid 2011 MD will pass only 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles) above the Earth’s surface on Monday June 27 at about 9:30 EDT. The asteroid was discovered by the LINEAR near-Earth object discovery team observing from Socorro, New Mexico. The diagram on the left shows the trajectory of 2011 MD projected onto the Earth’s orbital plane over a four-day interval. The diagram on the left gives another view from the general direction of the Sun that indicates that 2011 MD will reach its closest Earth approach point in extreme southern latitudes (in fact over the southern Atlantic Ocean). This small asteroid, only 5-20 meters in diameter, is in a very Earth-like orbit about the Sun, but an orbital analysis indicates there is no chance it will actually strike Earth on Monday. The incoming trajectory leg passes several thousand kilometers outside the geosynchronous ring of satellites and the outgoing leg passes well inside the ring. One would expect an object of this size to come this close to Earth about every 6 years on average.

Yowza! A little bigger, and a slight orbital change, and this would be very interesting, in the sense of the Chinese Curse “May you live in interesting times.”

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