A fine how-do-you-do from an asteroid

Five days after being discovered, an interplanetary visitor whizzes past

By Camille M. Carlisle, 16:01 PM June 27, 2011

A shudder of air and a quick streak of light were the only signs of an asteroid’s near-Earth flyby on June 27. Asteroid 2011 MD isn’t this year’s closest approach by a near-Earth object, nor is it the largest (a 400-meter-wide boulder is expected to pass within the moon’s orbit in November). What got the Internet buzzing was that 2011 MD was discovered only five days before its flyby.

Frankly, there’s enough space junk out there that a five-day lead time is pretty good: a 2008 asteroid that a...

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