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Bus-sized asteroid to pass close to Earth tomorrow

New Delhi: A newly-discovered asteroid at least the size of a bus and orbiting around the sun, will pass in close proximity to the Earth on Monday.

The asteroid 2011 MD will pass only 12,000 kilometres (7,500 miles) above Earth`s surface at around 6.56 pm on Monday, Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators Director C B Devgun said.

At closest approach, 2011 MD will pass in the day over the southern Atlantic Ocean near the coast of Antarctica. As the asteroid recedes from Earth, it will pass through the zone of geosynchronous satellites.

Measuring 10 metres, the asteroid for a brief time may be bright enough to be seen even with a modest-sized telescope, Devgun said.

The asteroid 2011 MD was recently discovered by a team of scientist in LINEAR Near-Earth Object Discovery Team scanning the sky from Socorro, New Mexico.

NASA analysts believe that since the asteroid is small, it does not pose any risk to the Earth, as in case it enters the Earth`s atmosphere it will get burnt up and only the asteroid`s ashes will reach the planet`s surface.

However, the encounter is close enough to sharply perturb the asteroid`s trajectory by the Earth`s gravity.

On an average, objects of this size can come this close to the Earth in about every 6 years, NASA said in it`s website.

Asteroids are a class of small solar system bodies in the orbit around the Sun. The larger asteroids have also been called planetoids.

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