Key Facts

  • Categorized as a Apollo-class Asteroid
  • Comparable in size to a school bus or smaller
  • Will pass within 21,484,605 km of Earth in 2020
  • Classified as a Near Earth Asteroid (NEA)
  • Not a Potentially Hazardous Object
  • See orbit simulation

Overview

2015 XW261 is a very small asteroid whose orbit crosses the orbit of Earth. NASA JPL has classified 2015 XW261 as a "Near Earth Asteroid" due to its orbit's proximity to Earth, but it is not considered potentially hazardous because computer simulations have not indicated any imminent likelihood of future collision.

2015 XW261 orbits the sun every 510 days (1.40 years), coming as close as 0.67 AU and reaching as far as 1.83 AU from the sun. Based on its brightness and the way it reflects light, 2015 XW261 is probably between 0.139 to 0.312 kilometers in diameter, making it a small to average asteroid, very roughly comparable in size to a school bus or smaller.

Close Approaches

2015 XW261's orbit is 0.12 AU from Earth's orbit at its closest point. This means that there is an wide berth between this asteroid and Earth at all times.

2015 XW261 has 17 close approaches predicted in the coming decades:

Date Distance from Earth (km) Velocity (km/s)
July 3, 2020 21,484,605 21.841
Dec. 29, 2022 17,719,852 20.953
June 24, 2027 24,568,695 19.654
Jan. 1, 2069 28,756,681 17.594
July 6, 2073 24,150,502 22.637
Dec. 30, 2075 17,416,172 20.217
June 26, 2080 22,233,952 20.175
Dec. 26, 2082 27,118,282 23.396
July 11, 2126 29,319,003 23.742
Jan. 1, 2129 19,947,586 19.094
July 2, 2133 20,771,621 21.134
Dec. 29, 2135 21,262,991 22.008
June 20, 2140 28,919,970 19.126
Jan. 2, 2182 23,394,065 18.426
July 5, 2186 21,838,204 21.833
Dec. 30, 2188 18,961,364 21.138
June 24, 2193 25,242,990 19.626

Images and Observations

2015 XW261's orbit is determined by observations dating back to Jan. 16, 2009. It was last officially observed on Aug. 15, 2020. The IAU Minor Planet Center records 197 observations used to determine its orbit.

Accessibility and Exploration

This asteroid is not considered a viable target for human exploration by the NHATS study.

Similar Objects

These objects have orbits that share similar characteristics to the orbit of 2015 XW261:

References

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Orbital Elements

  • Epoch: 2459000.5 JD
  • Semi-major axis: 1.249 AU
  • Eccentricity: 0.4669
  • Inclination: 29.67°
  • Longitude of Ascending Node: 269.94°
  • Argument of Periapsis: 289.41°
  • Mean Anomaly: 9.17°

Physical Characteristics

  • Diameter: ~0.180 km
  • Magnitude: 21.4

Derived Characteristics

  • Orbit Period: 510 days (1.40 years)
  • Avg. Orbit Speed: 26.64 km/s
  • Aphelion Distance: 1.83 AU
  • Perihelion Distance: 0.67 AU

Map Comparison

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Orbit Simulation

Sky Map

The position of 2015 XW261 is indicated by a ◯ pink circle. Note that the object may not be in your current field of view. Use the controls below to adjust position, location, and time.

Size Rendering

The below comparison is an artistic rendering that uses available data on the diameter of 2015 XW261 to create an approximate landscape rendering with New York City in the background. This approximation is built for full-resolution desktop browsers. Shape, color, and texture of asteroid are imagined.