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Last updated on Tuesday, November 1, 2011
(WEST LAFAYETTE-) Though there’s no threat that it will strike Earth, a large asteroid that will pass close to the planet on Nov. 8 would have had a devastating effect if it were to hit the planet, experts said.
(WEST LAFAYETTE-) Though there's no threat that it will strike Earth, a large asteroid that will pass close to the planet on Nov. 8 would have had a devastating effect if it were to hit the planet, experts said.
The aircraft carrier-sized asteroid, known as YU55, was discovered in 2005. At its closest approach, scientists project it will be 201,000 miles from Earth. They consider this a near-miss.
Jay Melosh, a professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Purdue University, says, the impact of an object of similar size would produce an earthquake of magnitude 7.0, prospects of a 70-foot tsunami and worse.
NASA and Spacewatch monitor near-Earth objects that are 0.6 mile or larger in diameter. The close approach of the asteroid has been expected since 2005, when it was discovered.
Scientists at Purdue put together a calculator, called Impact Earth, to estimate the impact of an object striking Earth and the possible damage it could cause.
They say if YU55 hit Earth, a 1,700-foot-deep crater four miles in diameter would be created and people would endure extensive first-degree burns 60 miles away from the point of impact. An object the size of YU55 would destroy a large city if it took a direct hit.
NASA said the last time an asteroid of a similar size came close to hitting Earth was in 1976, and that a known large asteroid will be near the planet in 2028.
Scientists believe that an asteroid that is about a third of a mile wide has a small chance of hitting Earth in 2036.
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