Photo: E. Guido and G. Sostero / AFAM / CARA via MSNBCScientists have identified and object that will pass the Earth (but won't hit it) sometime today. In a somewhat disconcerting twist, they don't know what it is. It's going to fwoosh by, missing us by only 80k miles (that's a third of the distance from here to the moon just FYI). Calm yourselves people! We can get through this. See, it's only about 10 meters wide, which turns out to be a good thing because (from MSNBC):
.....the "asteroid," or whatever it is, gives us a new standard: A 10-meter-wide (33-foot-wide) asteroid can be detected two days before it potentially hits Earth.That's supposed to be COMFORTING?
What makes this near-Earth object, or NEO, special is that it has an orbital period of almost exactly one year. This fact has led some scientists to speculate that 2010 AL30 could be an artificial object and not an asteroid.So it's space junk? But couldn't it still cause some damage?
It is worth noting that even if 2010 AL30 did hit Earth, it would most likely explode high in the atmosphere (with the energy of a small nuclear bomb), posing little danger to anyone on the ground. Impacts of this size happen every year.Well that makes me feel better! Unless it's artificial and not made by humans.....
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UPDATE: Wired posted an update (it is an asteroid) and some new images, including an animation of the fly by.