Large Asteroid to Fly by Earth on January 26

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( — January 6, 2015)  — An asteroid, at least 20 times the size of the Chelyabinsk meteorite, will approach the Earth on January 26. The rock is expected to fly by at a distance of 1.2 million kilometers, which is approximately three times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.

First discovered on January 30, 2004, by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR), the asteroid is named BL86. It is estimated to be between 440-1,000 meters in diameter.  

According to the Goldstone Observatory, located in California’s Mojave Desert, who will observed the asteroid during its approach, the asteroid is categorized as potentially dangerous, but there is no threat of the object colliding with our planet or endangering it in any way.

A space object is considered potentially dangerous if it crosses the Earth’s orbit at a distance of less than 0.05 AU (approximately 19.5 distances from the Earth to the Moon), and if its diameter exceeds 100-150 meters.

If hypothetically, it hits the Earth, objects of this magnitude are large enough to cause unprecedented destruction. If it falls into the Ocean, it could generate a mammoth tsunami that could flood a continent such as Australia.

When a meteorite disintegrated with a blast at an altitude of over 20 kilometers above the city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013, the impact was estimated to be equivalent to 440-500 kilotons of TNT, however, the Chelyabinsk meteorite was relatively small, about 17 meters in diameter.

As of mid-September 2011, LINEAR had detected some 231,082 new objects, of which at least 2,423 were near-Earth asteroids and 279 comets.