Asteroid 2003 QQ47 received quite a bit of media attention back in 2003 when it was discovered because it was said that it had a small chance of colliding with our planet in the year 2014.
It was rated a "1" on the Torino impact hazard scale of 1 – 10. The odds of collision in 2014, as estimated by JPL's Sentry impact monitoring system, peaked at 1 chance in 250 000, a result which was posted on JPL's Impact Risk Page on Saturday, August 30, 2003. On September 2, new measurements of QQ47's position allowed scientists to narrow their prediction of its path in 2014, and thus the Earth impact was ruled out. (JPL)
There are still people who think this asteroid will hit our planet on March 21, 2014 but we are actually 19 million kilometers away from the impact. Much of this latest public attention and panic was caused by misleading Daily Mail article… Phil Plait aka Bad Astronomer did a good job explaining it here.
According to JPLs close-approach data for asteroid 2003 QQ47, at 12:36 UTC on March 26, 2014 it will safely fly by Earth at a minimum distance of roughly 19 million kilometers (~12 million miles / 0.128 AU) with a relative velocity of 32.41 km/s.
According to Phil Plait, its size isn’t well known, but it’s something like 800 to 2 000 meters (0.5 – 1.2 miles) in diameter. Its orbit around the Sun is roughly the same size as Earth’s but tipped by more than 60°, which is fairly unusual.
The Virtual Telescope Project will offer a live, online event sharing real-time images of 2003 QQ47 with live commentary by their scientific staff.
The online, free session is scheduled for March 26, 2014, starting at 19:30 UTC.
Featured image: NASA JPL
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