The Tech Herald

Earth in near miss asteroid encounter

by Stevie Smith - Mar 2 2009, 23:08

Note: This is not DD45 2009. It's a comet from 2007. Image: wonderferret/Flickr.

While most of the world nonchalantly went about its business on Monday, March 02, a few twitchy stargazers were intently following the path of a near-Earth asteroid carrying the potential to create significant damage to the planet’s surface.

Although the snappily named DD45 2009 narrowly avoided a collision with Earth, passing by harmlessly at a distance of around 40,000 miles, space rock experts believe the 200ft asteroid was a significant event and something of a fanfare-free near miss.

Speaking with Canadian publication the Ontario Citizen, astronomer Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario said DD45 2009 was equivalent in size to the Tunguska asteroid that exploded above Siberia in 1908 and obliterated thousands of square miles of remote forestry.

According to Brown, “the last rock as large or larger than this to come this close was in 1973 and the next time will be in 2029 when Apophis makes its close approach.”

The Apophis asteroid initially caused some consternation with scientists when its plotted course revealed it to be on a collision trajectory with Earth. However, further investigation has since shown it will pass harmlessly by.

That being said, there are only a select amount of experts with their eyes trained to the heavens and many other potentially dangerous space objects could yet take the planet by surprise. Case in point, DD45 2009 was only discovered and tracked on February 27.

In order to provide increased coverage when searching space for asteroids and comets in the future, Canada is planning to launch its NEOSSat satellite (Near Earth Object Surveillance Satellite) into orbit in 2010.

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