Chinese astronomers discover new asteroid to fly by Earth

Source: Xinhua| 2020-03-03 13:27:07|Editor: huaxia

BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Chinese astronomers recently discovered a new asteroid and predicted that it would fly by Earth in early May.

The asteroid, designated 2020 DM4, was found by the Purple Mountain Observatory (PMO) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences at the end of February.

"2020 DM4 is approaching Earth. We estimate that the closest distance between the asteroid and Earth would be about 7.35 million km. It has some potential threat, but we need not worry about it," said Zhao Haibin, head of the Near-Earth Object Survey Telescope research team at PMO.

Astronomers used the China Near-Earth Object Survey Telescope based in Xuyi, eastern China's Jiangsu Province, to survey in the direction of Leo on the night of Feb. 26, and discovered a dim moving object, whose apparent velocity is quite different from that of a typical main-belt asteroid.

They reported to the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center (MPC) and shared the information with other countries. After that, another eleven telescopes around the globe jointly tracked and monitored the asteroid.

Based on the global observation data, astronomers determined the orbit of 2020 DM4, and the MPC announced the discovery of this potentially hazardous asteroid on Feb. 29.

China joined the International Asteroid Warning Network in February 2018, and the PMO is pushing forward the construction of China's own near-Earth object monitoring, warning and observation network.

However, China's ability in near-Earth object monitoring and warning is still limited. China needs to develop larger telescopes to improve its ability and play a more important role in the field of international asteroid monitoring and early warning, said Zhao.