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article imageBus-sized Asteroid 2012 JU gives Earth astronomical close shave

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By Andrew Moran     May 15, 2012 in Science
Pasadena - An asteroid the size of a tractor trailer or school bus came within close proximity of Earth Sunday night. The 40-foot wide rock passed inside the orbit of the moon, but we were not in danger of being struck – we did get a close shave, though.
This year, Earth has had a handful of asteroids pass between the Earth and the moon. In the month of May, it will be no different as at least three asteroids will come into close contact with our planet, including one that gave us, as Universe Today puts it, a haircut.
On Mother’s Day, an asteroid the size of a school bus passed between the Earth and the moon, according to NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The near-Earth asteroid 2012 JU is 40 feet (12 meters) wide and came within approximately 190,000 kilometers (118,000 miles) from the planet (or 0.5 Lunar Distance).
At no time was Earth in danger of being struck or have severe damage inflicted upon it. Following its nearby flight to Earth, it head out in the path of Jupiter and then our sun’s gravity pulled it back towards the centre of our solar system.
The NASA program database concluded that the space rock makes its one lap around the sun every 3.2 years. It also published an animation of the asteroid to show Earthlings what exactly happened Sunday evening.
These incidences are fairly common. The NASA office is currently tracking more than 8,900 near-Earth asteroids (it is believed there are many, many more) and is on the hunt to discover any space rock that could cause the end of civilization on our blue marble.
Asteroids have plagued Earth since the birth of our solar system. The planet has gone through a tumultuous existence, especially during the Late Heavy Bombardment about 4.1 billion years ago when the planets Jupiter, Neptune, Saturn and Uranus migrated around the solar system and their gravitational pull shot asteroids and comets toward the inner part of our solar system.
The next two near-Earth asteroids will make a close visit to Earth on May 19 (2010 KK37) and on May 30 (2001 CQ36).
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More about Asteroid 2012 JU, Earth, nearearth asteroids, NASA, nearEarth Object Program at the Jet Propulsion Lab
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