NASA Announces Discovery of Ten Thousandth Near-Earth Object

Posted on June 24, 2013

Asteroid 2013 MZ5

NASA has announced that over 10,000 asteroids and comets that can pass near Earth have now been discovered. The 10,000th near-Earth object is asteroid 2013 MZ5. The asteroid is about 1,000 feet (300 meters) across. It was detected on the night of June 18, 2013 by the Pan-STARRS-1 telescope, which is located on the summit of the Haleakala crater on Maui. You can view an animated GIF of the newly discovered asteroid here.

Lindley Johnson, program executive for NASA's Near-Earth Object Observations Program at NASA Headquarters, Washington, said in a statement, "Finding 10,000 near-Earth objects is a significant milestone. But there are at least 10 times that many more to be found before we can be assured we will have found any and all that could impact and do significant harm to the citizens of Earth."

NASA defines near-Earth objects (NEOs) as "asteroids and comets that can approach the Earth's orbital distance to within about 28 million miles (45 million kilometers)." NASA says about 10% of NEOs are one kilometer (6/10 of a mile) in size. An NEO of this size could produce global consequences if it impacted the Earth.

Photo: PS-1/UH

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