So the world didn’t end on December 21, and it’s more good news for the future of humanity with the announcement that Asteroid 2011 AG5 is no longer an impact risk.
NASA has downgraded the potential threat of Asteroid 2011 AG5, a near-Earth asteroid with a diameter of 460 feet or 140 meters. New observations by astronomers have found that 2011 AG5 no longer poses a significant risk of impact with Earth. We had been scheduled for a potential collision with the asteroid in 2040, following observations of the asteroid’s trajectory from the Gemini Observatory in Mauna-Kea Hawaii.
With the updated orbit, the asteroid will pass no closer than 890,000 km, over twice the distance to the moon in February 2040.
Identified as a potential risk in 2011, astronomers already thought it unlikely that there would be an impact with the asteroid on February 5 2040 but the latest observations downgraded the asteroid’s status as a ‘Potentially Hazardous Object’.
In a release from NASA’s Near Earth Object Program, they write:
“An analysis of the new data conducted by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, shows that the risk of collision in 2040 has been eliminated.”
While not significantly different from their previous findings, the updated trajectory of 2011 AG5 is has reduced the orbit uncertainties by more than a factor of 60 which means that the Earth’s position in February 2040 no longer falls within the range of possible collision paths with the asteroid. 2011 AG5 has now been removed from the Sentry Risk Table and has a rating of 0 on the Torino Scale, a measure of the impact hazard of near earth objects (NEOs), giving it a ‘no hazard’ rating.
The latest ‘all clear’ announcement follows a year of ‘close’ encounters with asteroids. Earlier in December, the Near Earth Object Program reported the safe passage of two asteroids ‘Toutatis’ and ‘2012 XE54’. Here at TG Daily we hope that 2013 is just as impact-free as 2012 has been.