It has been just over a year since a meteorite exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk and the close approach to Earth of asteroid 2012 DA14. Another near-Earth asteroid, 2000 EM26 will make its closest approach Monday and a live stream of the event will begin at 9 p.m. EST.
Asteroid 2000 EM26 is listed as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid, PHA, but the object will not be much of a threat to crash into Earth. According to Slooh, an international team of observatories which is hosting the live stream from its observatory in the Canary Islands, the asteroid has a diameter that is equivalent to three football fields, 270 meters (around 886 feet).
In 2013 asteroid 2012 DA14, a small Near Earth Asteroid, NEA, that measured 150 feet in diameter, passed just 17,200 miles above the surface of the Earth, the closest approach ever observed by an object of this size. Asteroid 2000 EM26’s close approach will be at 8.8 lunar distances from Earth. A lunar distance is around 238,900 miles, the average distance from the Earth to the moon. Asteroid 2000 EM26 is moving incredibly fast, at approximately 27,000 miles per hour.
Bob Berman, Slooh technical director, said in a statement, “On a practical level, a previously unknown, undiscovered asteroid seems to hit our planet and cause damage or injury once a century or so, as we witnessed on June 20, 1908, and February 15, 2013. Every few centuries, an even more massive asteroid strikes us -- fortunately usually impacting in an ocean or wasteland such an Antarctica. But the ongoing threat, and the fact that biosphere-altering events remain a real if small annual possibility, suggests that discovering and tracking all NEOs, as well as setting up contingency plans for deflecting them on short notice should the need arise, would be a wise use of resources.”
These recent events have helped speed up efforts by international space agencies and the United Nations to track asteroids and discuss ways of handling potential threats to Earth. The U.N. has established the International Asteroid Warning Group while NASA has its Near-Earth Object Program as well as the Asteroid Initiative and the Asteroid Grand Challenge, which attempt to find all potential asteroid threats. The European Space Agency is also developing a mission to deflect an asteroid.
The asteroid 2000 EM26 flyby live stream, courtesy of Slooh, begins at 9 p.m. EST, 6 p.m. PST, and can be viewed below.