A ‘Distant Pass’ Closely

June 16, 2015

icarus-asteroid-pass-earth.ecBright and windy this afternoon along California’s north coast, coasting on through the week.

Although a news addict, I didn’t spot this via NASA until this afternoon: ‘“Asteroid Icarus will safely pass by Earth at more than 21 times the distance of Earth to the moon on June 16. To put it another way, Icarus, one of the first near-Earth asteroids ever discovered (1949), will approach no closer than five million miles away (eight million kilometres).”

NASA does, however, classify Icarus a “Potentially Hazardous Asteroid,” and at 1.4km wide and a tail swooshing out a half-mile behind it, could cause some damage if calculations are off — this a ‘distant pass,’ so we’re all clear.
Yeah, right…

(Illustration found here).

Yet the brainiacs are most-likely right –via The Weather Network:

Fortunately, the possibility of Icarus striking the Earth remains in the realm of science fiction.
“We’re perfectly safe of course,” said Slooh astronomer Will Gater, “but close approaches like this one are always a reminder that our Solar System is a dynamic place, and that asteroids are thought to have played an important role in our past.”

Some background on the asteroid fly-by — via Sen:

Icarus will be visible in backyard telescopes around the 16th, and the folks at the Virtual Telescope project will also broadcast the approach live.
Watch for Icarus as a 10th magnitude “star” gliding through the constellation Canes Venatici near the Bigger Dipper asterism on the night of June 16th.
At its closest on June 16th, Icarus will be really moving, appearing to cover three quarters of a degree — 1.5 times the diameter of a Full Moon — every hour.
The JPL ephemeris generator is a great resource to get tailor-made coordinates for the asteroid in right ascension and declination for your location.
Icarus was also the first asteroid ever to be observed using radar in 1968.
Fast forward to 2015, and positional measurements made of Icarus using radar will prove valuable for testing and measuring general relativity.
Icarus also has a complex orbital resonance that assures that it will have close passages by the Earth once every nine, 19 and 28 years, respectively, and always in June.
We have never visited Icarus thus far, but the NEAR/Shoemaker spacecraft did visit Eros, a similar twin NEO asteroid.
And though Icarus passes near Earth frequently, its high relative delta-v does not make it a good candidate for future crewed exploration.


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