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A newly discovered asteroid, at least the size of a bus and orbiting the sun, will pass in close proximity to the Earth on Monday.
The asteroid 2011 MD will pass only 12,000 km (7,500 miles) above the Earth’s surface at around 6.56 p.m., Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators Director C. B. Devgun said.
At closest approach, 2011 MD will pass in the day over the southern Atlantic Ocean near the coast of Antarctica. As the asteroid recedes from the Earth, it will pass through the zone of geosynchronous satellites.
Measuring 10 metres, the asteroid, for a brief period of time, may be bright enough to be seen even with a modest-sized telescope, Mr. Devgun said.
Asteroids are a class of small solar system bodies in the orbit around the sun. The larger asteroids have also been called planetoids. The asteroid 2011 MD was recently discovered by the LINEAR Near-Earth Object Discovery Team scanning the sky from Socorro, New Mexico.
NASA analysts believe that since the asteroid is small, it does not pose any risk to the Earth. In case it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it will get burnt up and only the asteroid’s ashes will reach the planet’s surface.
However, the encounter is close enough to sharply perturb the asteroid’s trajectory by the Earth’s gravity.
The asteroid orbits the Earth in 396 days. It will come close to the Earth next on May 10, 2023.
On an average, objects of this size can come this close to the Earth once in about every six years, NASA said on its website.