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Asteroid 2002 MN: Second Closest Asteroid Approach to Earth

Don Yeomans
June 19, 2002

Animation of asteroid flying by the Earth The 100 meter-sized asteroid 2002 MN passed within 0.3 lunar distances of the Earth on June 14, 2002, some three days prior to its discovery. According to its most likely orbital path, this object came within 120,000 km (74,000 miles) of the Earth, a close approach that is second only to the Earth approach to within 105,000 km (65,000 miles) by the 10 meter-sized asteroid 1994 XM1 on December 9th, 1994. Asteroids of this relatively small size are frequently discovered near the time of their close Earth approaches because then they are relatively bright and have a characteristic rapid apparent motion across the sky.

The MIT Lincoln Laboratory's LINEAR team discovered Asteroid 2002 MN. Although only 14 observations of the object during two evenings were used to compute the orbit of this object, its future motion can be computed several decades into the future. According to our SENTRY system analysis, while there are some additional close Earth approach possibilities in 2061 and beyond, none of these Earth approaches are of particular concern.

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