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 Space.com 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.