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Asteroid to pass Earth within moon's orbit

April 7, 2010 at 12:11 PM   |   Comments

PASADENA, Calif., April 7 (UPI) -- U.S. astronomers say a newly discovered asteroid will travel close to Earth Thursday, passing the planet at a distance of about 223,000 miles.

The U.S. space agency said the asteroid -- named 2010 GA6 -- is approximately 71 feet wide and will fly-by Earth within the moon's orbit. It was discovered by the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey, a Tucson astronomical survey focused on the discovery and study of near Earth asteroids and comets.

"Fly-bys of near-Earth objects within the moon's orbit occur every few weeks," said Don Yeomans of NASA's Near-Earth Object Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. He said the asteroid poses no danger to the planet.

NASA detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground and space-based telescopes. The Near-Earth Object Observations Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," plots the objects' orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

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