Asteroid Buzzes Earth In Close Shave: First Photos

Asteroid 2011 MD seen in red, green, and blue from Faulkes Telescope South This image of asteroid 2011 MD is actually three separate observations taken in different wavelengths (red, green, blue) as seen by Australia’s remote operated Faulkes Telescope South. Astronomers with the Remanzacco Observatory based in Italy took the image during the asteroid’s extremly close pass by Earth on June 27, 2011.
CREDIT: Remanzacco Observatory/Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero, Nick Howes

An asteroid the size of a tour bus zipped by Earth today (June 27) in a flyby so close that the space rock was nearer to the planet than some satellites, giving skywatchers and astronomers a tantalizing target for photos.

The space rock, called asteroid 2011 MD, reached its closest point to Earth just after 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT), when it crept within 7,500 miles (12,000 km) of Earth before whipping away again like a slingshot. The asteroid was flying over the southern Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Antarctica, at the time of its closest approach.

Asteroid  barely misses earth

The asteroid was discovered just last week on June 22, but there was never any risk of it impacting Earth, NASA scientists said. Astronomers with the LINEAR near-Earth object survey in Socorro, N.M., made the find.


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