No, Asteroid 2014 YB35 will not be ‘skimming past' Earth on Friday for a 'terrifying' encounter
Friday, March 27, 2015, 12:32 PM - Rumors have surfaced on the internet about a massive asteroid - going by the name '2014 YB35' - and its supposedly 'terrifying' encounter with Earth on Friday. However, contrary to that narrative being presented in some stories, NASA is not on 'high alert' about this encounter, and we have nothing to fear from this asteroid.
In late December 2014, just a couple of days after Christmas, astronomers with the Catalina Sky Survey spotted an object in the night sky that had never been previously catalogued.
At the time of its discovery, this roughly 500 m wide asteroid was over 80 million kilometres from Earth - farther away than the planet Mars is at its closest to us. Continuous tracking of the object since that day has yielded up a very accurate orbital diagram, which is shown below.
As the orbit simulation shows, on March 27, the asteroid comes within 0.03 Astronomical Units of Earth, which is 3 per cent of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun. That's equates to a closest approach that's just shy of 4.5 million kilometres, or over 11 times farther away than the Moon!
Is that truly 'skimming' past Earth?
Consider, for comparison, Asteroid 367943 Duende, perhaps better known by its provisional name, 2012 DL14. This 30 m wide rock flew past Earth on February 15, 2013, passing us at a distance of just over 27,000 kilometres. That comes out to around 7 per cent of the distance to the Moon, which is actually closer to Earth than the ring of geosynchronous communications and weather satellites that circles the planet.
While that February 2013 flyby coincided with the Chelyabinsk 'superbolide' event, when a 20 metre wide rock burned through the atmosphere and exploded over the Siberian city of Chelyabinsk, the two objects had nothing to do with one another. 367943 Duende sailed by harmlessly and we won't see it come back within the orbit of the Moon until 2116 (when it passes by about 3 times the distance it did in 2013).
Should we be worried at all about this flyby?
Short answer: No.
Slightly longer answer: This is, apparently, the closest approach that 2014 YB35 has made to Earth in the past 100 years, and it will make an ever-so-slightly closer pass in March 2033. However, as NASA said back in January, when asteroid 2004 BL86 flew past at a distance of 1.2 million kilometres, that flyby was the closest pass of a large asteroid (at least half a kilometre wide) until the year 2027.
So, no. There's nothing to worry about from Asteroid 2014 YB35.