Saturday, November 5, 2011

Close Encounters of the Scary Kind: Massive Asteroid YU55 to Pass Close to Earth

Satellite image of asteroid/Reuters
A massive asteroid will make a too-close-for-comfort flyby to Earth on Tuesday, NASA scientists have warned. Asteroid 2005 YU 55 will pass our planet at a distance closer than the moon and will give astronomers and scientists an opportunity to study the large chunk of space debris. The flyby eerily coincides with the very first nationwide full scale test of the Emergency Alert System on November 9 that will alert Americans of any possible threats.

The sizable chunk of space rock measures approximately 1,312 feet in diameter-about the size of an aircraft carrier- and has been having close encounters with our planet for perhaps thousands of years, experts said.  Gravitational tugs from the other planets in our solar system are continually altering its course as it makes its orbit through the vastness of deep space.

The asteroid is one of several that have been discovered recently that will have close encounters with our planet. NASA's Near Earth Object program has mapped out the trajectories of thousands of similar objects in an effort to better alert the population if and when a dangerous impact from a similar object should occur in the future.

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