Friday, September 05, 2014
Great news: we get a free flyby of an asteroid at a very close distance in just three days. Flybys of asteroids closer than the distance to the moon are very rare, and this one will be nearly ten times closer. Too small to be seen with the unaided eye, we'll still see some videos of it and, naturally, Goldstone has quickly made it a priority.
2014 RC is an object roughly 15 meters in diameter that will make an extremely close approach to Earth at 0.1 Earth-Moon distances on 2014 September 7. Nothing is known about the asteroid other than a crude estimate of its diameter, but the close approach distance indicates that this object will be a very strong radar target on Sep. 7. This will be one of the closest approaches known an object of this size or larger. The encounter provides an excellent opportunity to study the physical properties of this object, which is in a size class that is not well understood.It's just a pity that it's not going to hit us, because it would do hardly any damage but would have made headlines for a full week as it approached.