uhifa_mountain.jpg
(12058 bytes)

Near Earth Asteroid

Return to Jan02 News

Return to Main TOPS

Near-Earth Asteroid 2001 YB5 passed the Earth on January 7 at a distance of 830,000 km, generating considerable interest in the international press. This edition of NEO News summarizes information on YB5. This asteroid is estimated to be the size of the largest shopping centers (including the parking lots). Its distance of closest approach is about twice the distance of the Moon from the Earth. YB5 was discovered on December 26 by the NEAT survey team at Palomar Mountain. The NASA NEO Program Office website lists the closest approach as taking place on 2002-Jan-07 at 07:37 UT, at a distance of 0.0056 AU (830,000 km) or 2.2 lunar distances.

YB5 is classed as "potentially hazardous" because its orbit brings it so close to the Earth. However, there is no danger of it hitting our planet on any future pass for at least the next several centuries. If it ever does hit our planet, an asteroid of this size would excavate a crater (on land) the size of a small city, and the blast would cause considerable damage on the scale of a country like France. Fortunately, asteroids this size collide with Earth only at average intervals of about 20,000 - 30,000 years. However, something as big as YB5 comes as close as this roughly annually. Thus many thousands of objects come close (a "near miss") for every one that actually hits. Most of these are undetected, since the coverage of the Spaceguard Survey is limited for asteroids this small.


Visits since 01/02. Last Updated on Jan 26, 2002
Karen. Meech, Institute for Astronomy, UH
meech@ifa.hawaii.edu