Mystery Object approaches Earth


Image of asteroid 2010 AL30 taken on Jan 12 at 15h 46m GMT with a 35cm Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope – Credit: Dave Herald
 

Theres a strange object called 2010 AL30 approaching Earth. What is it? Is it a small asteroid? Or is it a man made object? Perhaps space junk? Opinion is still divided but we should know soon.:

ASTRONOMERS will tonight get their best look at a “mystery object” orbiting the Earth just a third of the distance out to the moon.

Named 2010 AL30, the object will pass within 130,000km of the Earth at 12:48 GMT (22:48 AEDT).

It is between 10-15m long, meaning there is no chance it could ever have an impact on the planet, but it is certainly causing plenty of discussion in scientific circles.

Experts are divided over whether the object is man-made or a small asteroid.

Italian scientists Ernesto Guido and Giovanni Sostero told Ria Novosti it had an orbital period of almost exactly one year and might be a spent rocket booster.

But Alan Harris at the US Space Science Institute said the object had a “perfectly ordinary Earth-crossing orbit”.

“Unlikely to be artificial, its orbit doesn’t resemble any useful spacecraft trajectory, and its encounter velocity with Earth is not unusually low,” he posted to The Minor Planet Mailing List.

Expert astronomers will be able to see it shining with a brightness of a 14th-magnitude star similar to that of Pluto.

It will appear moving through the constellations of Orion, Taurus and Pisces, according to NASA’s Solar System Dynamics website.

Heres an animation of the flyby by Gerhard Dangl :

For more information try these two links.

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