Asteroid the size of a bus hurtles past Earth

The space rock came within 186,000 miles of Earth - closer than the Moon

Antonia Molloy
Monday 05 May 2014 13:28
Scientists across the world observe the night skies looking for asteroids that could potentially collide with our planet
Scientists across the world observe the night skies looking for asteroids that could potentially collide with our planet

Unbeknown to most of us here on Earth, a huge asteroid the size of a double-decker bus hurtled past our planet over the weekend.

Days after it was spotted by astronomers, the space rock passed within 186,000 miles (300,000 kilometres) of Earth, reported.

And although it may sound like a large distance, the asteroid travelled within the Moon’s orbit, which on average takes the satellite 238, 855 miles (384,399 kilometres) away from Earth.

The asteroid, known a HL 129, was about 7.6 metres (25 feet) wide and made its closest approach to Earth at 4.13am EDT (8.13am GMT) on Saturday.

Astronomers from the Mount Lemmon Survey team first spotted the rock on Wednesday, according to an alert by Minor Plant Center, which is part of the International Astronomical Union.

Nasa scientists and researchers across the world keep a constant look-out for potentially dangerous asteroids that could crash into Earth - with deadly consequences.

Those with the potential to cause significant damage in the event of impact are categorised as ‘potentially hazardous objects’ (PHO) but they must have a diameter of at least 100 to 150 metres to fall within the PHO definition.

Former astronaut Ed Lu said earlier this year that it was only “blind luck” that the planet had not suffered a catastrophic hit from an asteroid.

He told “While most large asteroids with the potential to destroy an entire country or continent have been detected, less than 10,000 of the more than a million dangerous asteroids with the potential to destroy an entire major metropolitan area have been found by all existing space or terrestrially-operated observatories.

“Because we don't know where or when the next major impact will occur, the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a 'city-killer' sized asteroid has been blind luck.”

In 2013 over 1,000 people were injured after an asteroid exploded above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in