December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas: A Huge Asteroid Will Safely Pass Earth Thursday.
written by Miriam Kramer
Wednesday December 23, 2015

An asteroid 3,600 feet across will pass safely by the Earth on Christmas Eve, making its cosmic flyby just in time for the holiday.

The space rock — named Asteroid 2003 SD220 — will fly about 6.8 million miles from the Earth. (For reference, the moon is about 240,000 miles from the planet.)

NASA scientists have carefully tracked the asteroid, and don't worry, it won't come anywhere near impacting the planet, but it may be a help for researchers hoping to study the rock in the future.

"The data acquired during this pass of the asteroid will help us plan for radar imaging during its upcoming closer approach in 2018," Lance Benner, leader of NASA's asteroid radar research program, said in a statement.

In 2018, Asteroid 2003 SD220 will zoom about 1.7 million miles from the planet.

Scientists use radar images to investigate close-flying asteroids as they pass by Earth. That kind of data can tell researchers more about the compositions, sizes and general shapes of space rocks left over from the dawn of the solar system.

It's also helpful to categorize asteroids like this for any future missions space agencies might want to launch to these space rocks in the future.
OFFICIAL IMAGE: Asteroid 2003 SD220, the "Christmas Eve asteroid", will be 28 times farther away than our moon. The...
Posted by National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (Arecibo Observatory) on Wednesday, December 23, 2015
“Because it comes close to Earth it is of interest to NASA as a possible future robotic or human mission target,” Patrick Taylor, scientist at the Arecibo Observatory, said in a statement.

Plenty of asteroids harmlessly pass by Earth each year.

NASA and other organizations like the Minor Planet Center keep a close eye out for asteroids and comets as they make their close approaches with Earth. Scientists track their orbits to be sure that none of the largest asteroids are at risk of impacting Earth.

NASA scientists have tracked about 90% of the near-Earth objects that are 3,280 feet or more in diameter. If an object of that size were to impact the planet, it could potentially have worldwide consequences.

But still, there's no need to worry about 2003 SD220's Christmas Eve flyby.

"There is no cause for concern over the upcoming flyby of asteroid 2003 SD220 this Christmas Eve," Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, said in the statement. "The closest this object will come to Santa and his eight tiny reindeer is about 28 times the distance between Earth and the moon."
#ALERT: A mysterious light has been seen streaking across the sky tonight from Las Vegas to Ventura, CA. Video Courtesy: Sharon ChayraDETAILS:
Posted by Fox 11 Los Angeles on Tuesday, December 22, 2015
A lot of mysterious things are happening in the skies lately. Keep your antennae up! ;) ♥

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