SLOOH SPACE CAMERA TO TRACK NEAR-EARTH ASTEROID
153958 (2002 AM31) ON ITS CLOSE APPROACH TO EARTH
Discovered by Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR), NEA (near-Earth asteroid) 2002 AM31, an asteroid the size of a city block,made its close approach to Earth Sunday evening (July 22) — just 39 days after newly discovered asteroid 2012 LZ1 paid an unexpected visit to Earth.
Slooh Space Camera covered its near-approach live accompanied by real-time discussions by Slooh’s Patrick Paolucci and Astronomy magazine columnist Bob Berman.
The asteroid is estimated to be 620 m to 1.4 km (2,000 to 4,500 ft wide) and passed within 14 times the Moon’s distance from our planet.
Due to its size and proximity to Earth, 2002 AM31 qualifies as a near-Earth object as it’s more than 500 feet wide and within 4.65 million miles of Earth.
Bob Berman says, “Near Earth objects are no longer treasures only for the paranoid, or for those who secretly and strangely are rooting for an early apocalypse.
The entire astronomical community has reversed its thinking about them over the past few decades.
Instead of living on an “island Earth” with little or no connection with other celestial objects, we now feel that collisions with comets or asteroids change the evolution of our biosphere, and maybe even seeded our world with the amino acids that started life long ago.
In other words, these are important entities. Not to mention, there’s always that exciting little hint of danger.”
“One of our missions at Slooh is to provide the public with free, live views on fascinating celestial happenings,” says Patrick Paolucci, President at Slooh. “Near-Earth asteroid 153958 (2003 AM31) represents 1 of approximately 9,000 whizzing past Earth at any given moment, and we wanted to highlight this one as it’s only 13.7 lunar distances from Earth — similar to near-Earth asteroid LZ1 which zoomed past us unexpectedly mid-June.”