A newfound asteroid gave Earth a close shave early today, zipping between our planet and the moon just two days after astronomers first spotted it.
The near-Earth asteroid 2012 XE54, which was discovered Sunday (Dec. 9), came within 140,000 miles (230,000 kilometers) of our planet at about 5 a.m. EST (1000 GMT) Tuesday (Dec. 11), researchers said. For comparison, the moon orbits Earth at an average distance of 240,000 miles or so (386,000 km).
Astronomers estimate that 2012 XE54 is about 120 feet (36 meters) wide — big enough to cause substantial damage if it slams into Earth someday. An object of similar size flattened 800 square miles (2,000 square km) of forest when it exploded above Siberia’s Podkamennaya Tunguska River in 1908.
2012 XE54 will be coming back to Earth’s neighborhood before too much longer. The asteroid completes one lap around the sun every 2.72 years.
I’m willing to cut the Mayans a couple years plus or minus for their calendar. When you’re that busy cutting people’s hearts out, what time do you have left to build precision computers out of granite?
That reminds me, I need to rewatch the 2012 movie again,kinda fun watching LA get swallowed up by the earth. Kinda like what CALPERS is doing to it.