Asteroid 2005 YU55 will make an extraordinarily close flyby of Earth on November 8, 2011, passing right inside our moon’s orbit at a distance of only about 200,000 miles.
The asteroid, which is roughly 1,300 feet wide (not much in comparison to the doom-maker 433 Eros, which is 8 miles, or 42,240 feet, wide), won’t impact Earth. But scientists will be granted a fantastic opportunity to study it, as the close distance will provide high resolution images of its surface geography and mineral composition.
Scientists are also looking to 2005 YU55 as a stepping stone into the future. They’ll use the data gathered from observing it to understand the nuance of landing humans on such asteroids, as well as to learn more about the formation of our own planet.
While, again, this asteroid poses no threat whatsoever to Earth, that hasn’t stopped many from musing about its potential for destruction. Using Purdue’s asteroid impact calculator, it’s figured that, if this asteroid did hit Earth, it wouldn’t wipe humanity out, but it would cause trouble for anyone nearby.
2005 YU55 will not pass Earth again until 2041.