1991 BA

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1991 BA is an asteroid that was discovered by Spacewatch on January 18, 1991[1] and passed within 160,000 km (100,000 mi) of Earth. This is a little less than half the distance to the Moon. 1991 BA is approximately 5 to 10 meters (15 to 30 ft) in diameter and is listed on the Sentry Risk Table.[2] It follows a highly eccentric (0.682), low-inclination (2.0°) orbit of 3.36 years duration, ranging between 0.713 and 3.773 AU from the Sun (semi-major axis of 2.243 AU). 1991 BA was, at the time of its discovery, the smallest and closest confirmed asteroid outside of Earth's atmosphere.[3] 1991 BA is too faint to be observed except during close approaches to Earth and is considered lost.

Virtual clones of the asteroid that fit the uncertainty region in the known trajectory show a 1 in 1,961,000 chance that the asteroid will impact Earth on 2023 January 18.[2] It is estimated that an impact would produce an upper atmosphere air burst equivalent to 19 kt TNT,[2] roughly equal to Nagasaki's Fat Man. The asteroid would appear as a bright fireball and fragment in the air burst into smaller pieces that would hit the ground at terminal velocity producing a meteorite strewn field. Impacts of objects this size are estimated to occur approximately once a year. Asteroid 2008 TC3 was an object of similar size that was discovered less than a day before its impact on Earth on October 7, 2008 and produced a fireball and meteorite strewn field in the Sudan.


  1. ^ "JPL Close-Approach Data: (1991 BA)" (last observation: 1991-01-18; arc: 1 day; uncertainty: 9). Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  2. ^ a b c "Earth Impact Risk Summary: 1991 BA". NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office. Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  3. ^ Scotti, J. V.; Rabinowitz, D. L.; Marsden, B. G. (1991). "Near miss of the Earth by a small asteroid". Nature 354: 287–289. Bibcode:1991Natur.354..287S. doi:10.1038/354287a0. 

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