April 16, 2021
Small asteroid bypasses Earth
PASADENA--A small asteroid buzzed the Earth over the weekend flying just inside the orbit of the moon. It passed safely by our home planet, according to a crack team of NASA space rock trackers.

The space rock, named 2009 TM8, was just discovered Thursday by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. It will got within 216,000 miles of Earth when it zooms by at a speed of about 18,163 mph.

"That's slightly closer than the orbit of our moon," NASA's Asteroid Watch team said.

The asteroid hunters at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., stands on constant watch for rogue space rocks that could pose an impact risk to Earth. It was the same team which, last week, scaled back the risk of another asteroid, a large space rock called Apophis, hitting the Earth in 2036.

Compared to Apophis, which is as large as two football fields, 2009 TM8 is tiny. It is about 30 feet (7 meters) across and was discovered Thursday by skywatchers, JPL officials told SPACE.com.

Such close passes are not unheard of. With smaller objects, which are hard to find, announcements like this often come at the last minute. Researchers say there is a risk, however, of Earth eventually being hit by an undetected small asteroid that could cause heavy localized or even regional damage. (Source: space.com)
Story Date: October 20, 2009
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