Newly Discovered Asteroid to ‘Skim’ Past Earth Today

February 9, 2018 Updated: May 25, 2018    

A newly discovered asteroid that is set to buzz past Earth today could be as large as the asteroid that exploded over Russia five years ago.

Asteroid 2018 CB that was only spotted five days ago is between 50 and 130 feet in size, according to NASA.

It will pass by Earth within one-fifth of the distance between the Earth and the moon.

“Asteroids of this size do not often approach this close to our planet—maybe only once or twice a year,” said Paul Chodas, the manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies.

According to NASA, it will make its closest approach to Earth at 10:30 p.m. GMT (5:30 p.m. EST) today.

The asteroid was found by NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) near Tucson, Arizona, that records potentially hazardous asteroids.

“Although 2018 CB is quite small, it might well be larger than the asteroid that entered the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, almost exactly five years ago, in 2013,” said Chodas.

In astronomical terms, the asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk was quite small, at 59 feet. The rock exploded in the atmosphere 14.5 miles (23.3 kilometers) above Russia’s Chelyabinsk region in February 2013. It caused over 1,000 injuries and extensive damage to property.

Fortunately, the space station said that 2018 CB will “safely pass” Earth.

It is the second asteroid to pass by the planet this week. Spotted by CSS, 2018 CC zoomed past Earth at about 8:10 p.m. GMT (3:10 p.m. EST) on Tuesday Feb. 6. at a distance of about 114,000 miles (184,000 kilometers). The asteroid was between 50 and 100 feet in size.

NASA is particularly concerned about asteroids that are over 500 feet in diameter and closer than 4.6 million miles from Earth. These types of asteroids are classified as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids.

The agency has found about 16,000 asteroids and comets near Earth, and there are another few million estimated to be orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter, where most of them reside.

Tenagra Observatories in Arizona will use its telescopes to live stream a video of asteroid 2018 CB as it approaches Earth today.

NTD reporter Holly Kellum contributed to this report.

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