- Officials at the Minor Planet Center announced Thursday
the addition of a 200th asteroid to a list of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids
- These rocks in space can pass within 5 million miles
of Earth and are brighter than magnitude 22, a measurement that suggests
the asteroids are more than about 600 feet across.
- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory
Near-Earth Asteroid Research project, known as LINEAR found the newly discovered
asteroid, designated 1999 VP11, on Nov. 7. The project is responsible for
the discovery of about one-third of all known PHAs, according to a statement
from the Minor Planet Center.
- The first PHA, known as Apollo, was discovered in 1932.
But the search for Near-Earth Asteroids (NEOs) has only recently gained
steam, and all but 15 of the PHAs have been found during the past 20 years.
Most pose no real threat to Earth, experts say, though a handful could
have their orbits altered by other bodies in the solar system, possibly
sending them on a collision course with our planet at some point in the
- "Only a fraction warrant any serious examination
for a possible impact during the next half-century or so," said Brian
Marsden, director of the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet
- Other significant Earth-approaching asteroid search programs
include the University of Arizona's Spacewatch project (12 PHAs discovered),
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking program (six),
the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey (five), and the Lowell
Observatory Near-Earth Object Program (four). Amateur astronomer Roy Tucker
has discovered two PHAs.