Here’s something to dwell on as you head to work next week: A small asteroid the size of a tour bus will make an extremely close pass by the Earth on Monday, but it poses no threat to the planet
The asteroid will make its closest approach at 1:14 p.m. EDT (1714 GMT) on June 27 and will pass just over 7,500 miles (12,000 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface, NASA officials say.
At that particular moment, the asteroid — which scientists have named 2011 MD — will be sailing high off the coast of Antarctica, almost 2,000 miles (3,218 km) south-southwest of South Africa.
Asteroid 2011 MD was discovered Wednesday (June 22) by LINEAR, a pair of robotic telescopes in New Mexico that scan the skies for near-Earth asteroids. The best estimates suggest that this asteroid is between 29 to 98 feet (9 to 30 meters) wide.
According to NASA’s Near-Earth Object Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., an object of this size can be expected to come this close to Earth about every 6 years or so, on average.
“There is no chance that 2011 MD will hit Earth but scientists will use the close pass as opportunity to study it w/ radar observations,” astronomers with NASA’s Asteroid Watch program at JPL wrote in a Twitter post Thursday (June 23).