On this day in 1898, 433 Eros was discovered. It was the first near-earth asteroid ever discovered. It has a fairly elliptical orbit, and crosses the orbit of Mars. Currently, it does not cross the Earth’s orbit. But that could change. So people who worry about this kind of stuff pay a lot of attention to the asteroid. In fact, 433 Eros was the first asteroid that we put a spacecraft in orbit around. It eventually landed on it.
Like most asteroids, 433 Eros is irregularly shaped, but it is not a tiny thing. It’s about 20 miles long and about 7 miles in the other directions. This makes it roughly half the size of the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs. So if it hit the earth, it would destroy everything. We would almost certainly go extinct. It’s interesting how we live our lives in blissful ignorance of the many threats that lurk in the vast unknown.
Happy birthday 433 Eros!