Asteroid Trackers Keeping Busy

February 15th, when a bus-sized asteroid exploded in the skies over Russia, it brought the dangers of our place in the solar system into the headlines. Since then experts at NASA and around the world have tracked a number of “near-misses”, and recently Slooh telescope engineer David Cox was quoted as saying “We’re not sitting here on our pale, blue dot on our own in nice safety … This should be a wakeup call to governments.”

The same say as the Russian asteroid, another small asteroid known as DA14 passed just 17,200 miles from the earth. At that distance, it actually passed inside the orbit of many earth orbiting telecommunications and weather satellites.

Asteroid 2013 ET, eight times the size of the Russian one, was only discovered 6 days before it passed, and came within 600,000 miles of Earth on Saturday, March 9th. That’s about 2 ½ times the distance of our moon, but not too far indeed when compared to other celestial distances.

Closely following 2013 ET, asteroid 2013 EC also passed close to Earth on Saturday, March 9th, at a mere 93,000 miles, and on Sunday, March 10, asteroid 2013 EM passed within 279,000 miles. Both of these asteroids were about the same size as the Russian asteroid, which created an explosion equivalent to about 440 kilotons of dynamite, injured more than 1,500 people, and were only discovered some 3 days before they got near Earth.

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