Earth's gravity turned asteroid 2011 CQ1 from an Apollo to an Aten-class asteroid

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Remember the tiny asteroid that passed by Earth at a record close distance earlier this month? It turns out that the close approach to Earth altered its orbit by a full 60 degrees, changing it from an Apollo-class asteroid (orbit usually between Earth and Mars) into an Aten-class asteroid, with an orbit now mostly within ours. NASA still hasn't updated the orbit here, but you can see on what happened to it:

It's just like what happens when you run this orbital simulator and put a tiny body next to a large one. Warning: do not run that orbital simulator if you value your free time, as it will take up your entire afternoon if you're not careful.

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