A small asteroid named 2016 WT made a close approach to Earth at 06:54 UTC on November 17, 2016 at just 0.49 LD (188 160 km / 116 917 miles) from the surface of the planet.
This is an Apollo class asteroid with an estimated size of 2 – 5 m (6.5 – 16.4 feet). It flew past our planet at a relative velocity of 11 km/s.
Asteroid 2016 WT was discovered by Mt. Lemmon Survey on November 18, a day after its closest approach.
Its next close approach to our planet is expected at 22:45 UTC on July 6, 2020 at a minimum distance of 0.13 AU (50.6 LD).
Apollo-class asteroids are Earth-crossing asteroids that have an orbital semi-major axis greater than that of the Earth (> 1 AU) but perihelion distances less than the Earth's aphelion distance (q < 1.017 AU).
It is by far the largest group of near-Earth objects, compared to the Aten, Amor and Atira asteroids.
As of November 19, 2016, the steadily growing number of known Apollo asteroids has reached a total of 8 198 members.
As of November 21, 2016, there are 2 636 discovered near-Earth asteroids smaller than 30 m (98 feet), 3 117 have estimated diameter between 30 and 100 m (98 – 328 feet), 3 847 between 100 and 300 m (328 – 984 feet), 3 714 between 300 m and 1 km (984 – 3280 feet), and 874 larger than 1 km.
With over 90% of the near-Earth objects larger than 1 km already discovered, the NEO Program is now focusing on finding 90% of the NEO population larger than 140 m (459 feet).
Featured image: Asteroid 2016 WT approaching Earth. Credit: ESA/NEO Coordination Centre
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